SHARE
Happy memories . . .Michael O'Neill stands in what used to be the print room at The Ensign building in Mersey St.PHOTO: ELLA STOKES

Starting out as a delivery boy turned into printing the paper for one Gore man, who remembers The Ensign as it used to be.

Now a machinery salesmen at Southland Farm Machinery, Michael O’Neill worked at The Ensign for eight years.

He started as a paper boy in 1967 when he was 12.

The now 63-year-old said he had been paid $11 a week and recalled “shooting down after school to roll the paper and deliver it”.

He used to bike all over town to deliver papers.

After finishing his schooling at St Peter’s College, Mr O’Neill stayed on working at The Ensign and started his apprenticeship as a letterpress machinist in 1971.

After five years, Mr O’Neill was a qualified print machinist.

In that time, The Ensignshifted from its original building to the current one in Mersey St and Mr O’Neill recalled having to help with the move.

“It was a big job; the printing machines were very heavy,” he said.

One of his most significant memories was shifting from letterpress printing to offset printing.

Letterpress printing was done using a printing press. Copies were produced by repeated direct impression of an inked, raised surface against sheets or a continuous roll of paper.

Mr O’Neill said this type of printing was very labour-intensive.

” Some of the machines were fed by hand and some were pedal-powered”

The offset printing technique, in which the inked image was transferred (or “offset”) from a plate to a rubber blanket and then to the printing surface, was a lot more efficient, Mr O’Neill said.

The Ensign is no longer printed in Gore but is instead printed at the Otago Daily Timesbuilding in Dunedin.

Mr O’Neill said they used to print everything from newspapers to wedding invitations, flyers, posters and much more.

He had enjoyed the commercial printing the most.

” I liked working with the bigger machines and printing on a large scale”.

Mr O’Neill said he had many fond memories of working at The Ensign

“Every day was funny here. It was a good place,” he said.

“One day we tried printing money .. that didn’t go down so well”

After finishing work at The Ensign, Mr O’Neill had a range of jobs.

He worked as a glazier and at the paper mill in Mataura, The Warehouse and Crawford Ag.

Mr O’Neill also goes by the name of “Stretch” and has dabbled in a bit of basketball in his time. He is a life member of Eastern Southland Basketball club.