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Print museum packed for grand re-opening

Friday, 23 November 2018
By Jake Nelson

Legacy: (L-R) Mandy Allen and Trisha Hickey, granddaughters of Penrith Museum of Printing founder Alan Connell, with museum president Ralph Bennett.

A huge crowd turned out for the re-opening of the Penrith Museum of Printing on Wednesday night, with around 80 guests coming out to see the newly-renovated facilities – including the granddaughters of founder Alan Connell.

It was hard to move for printing tragics on the night as Bob Lockley, committee member and emcee, thanked those who made the trek out to Sydney’s west to see the rebirth of the only “working” print museum in Australia after a six-month, $130,000 renovation. “We’ve had an unbelievable response to our invitations to this reopening, and we are pleased that there’s so much interest in what’s going on here. Well done to all of you people for coming out tonight,” he said.

Packed to the rafters: 78 people turned out for the museum’s reopening.

Founded in 2001 by printing industry veteran Alan Connell, the museum was recently expanded to accommodate equipment that previously had to be kept in storage. Ralph Bennett, museum president, welcomed Connell’s granddaughters Mandy Allen and Trisha Hickey to the event. “Alan’s dream was this museum,” said Bennett. “He was an apprentice for the Nepean Times, and his apprenticeship was interrupted by the Second World War. Later on, he came back, finished his apprenticeship, and worked as a typesetter on a Linotype machine. When the newspaper closed, all this machinery went idle, but he had an idea that it would be good to keep it and make a museum.”

Each guest on the night was given a gift: a badge made from an authentic Linotype matrix, similar to those used on the working machines on display in the museum. It was fascinating to learn about the history of typesetting, from the old days of manually arranging blocks of text to the hot-metal stamping of slugs from Linotype machines – and it made me grateful for the invention of the computer keyboard, which has certainly made producing a magazine a lot less work (and much less warm).

Delighted: Bob Lockley (right) emceed the event.

Speaking after the event, Lockley told me that he was delighted by the full house and the feedback he’d received from guests. “We ended up with 78 people, which is a huge response. Talking to people on the way around, everyone seems absolutely rapt with what’s going on.

“It was awesome that the grandchildren of the founder were able to be here, as well as local government. The calibre of guests was amazing, and we hope they’ll help support the museum going forward,” he said.

That support is key to the museum’s future, said Lockley. “Next for the museum is to encourage more tours and more courses, and get the whole project running at a greater rate of knots. We want to get more people through the museum, more equipment, and more support – that’s our main target,” he said.

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