Day 139 – 365 / May 19th 2015
A huge thank you to Olivia Leigh, Events Executive for Times+ and The Times Subscriber Team for organising this tour. Incredibly interesting.
Today’s picture is of the track by which huge rolls of blank newspaper – 2211mm tall by over 1200mm wide and weighing 2 tons – are moved from the storage area into the printing presses before becoming your morning newspaper. Each roll of paper is from recycled paper and costs £1,000.
Have you ever been to a newspaper printing plant? No? Well, if you get the chance to do so, then get yourself booked onto a tour of one as it is rather very good.
Today we took a trip over the Pennines to Knowsley and the NewsPrinters plant that lives there. It is where national newspapers such as The Times, The Sunday Times, The Sun, The Financial Times, The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Telegraph are printed each day. They also print a number of local and regional titles and, so we were told, will soon be adding even more national and regional papers to their list.
The site is huge, at around 31 acres and everything about is is impressive. When we visited, late in the morning, the site was calm and quite with most staff on site involved in the cleaning and maintenance activities that are carried out every day to ensure Knowsley runs around the clock and that they presses do not stop when unintended. The plant is operational 24 hours a day every day of the year. Except for December 24th when it closes – their are no papers published on Christmas Day. No doubt when the presses hit full speed late at night then the noise from the print room will be loud.
The site is fully automated and is run by fewer than 90 people.
They have five presses that begin to print the national papers at around 2230 each night. This is subject to the various newspaper editors submitting the pages on time and, often, this can be later as a result. Each press is capable of printing up to 86,000 complete papers each hour – 120 pages of a broadsheet and 240 pages for tabloids.
The plant receives the copy and pages from the newspapers as completed PDF files. These are then place by an operator onto one of a series of computer terminal where each page of the paper is allocated space in the operation. Printing plates are created on high quality aluminium which is then exposed to light and processed exactly like old fashioned photographic film used to be. Each page has four plates made, one each for the printing process of CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black).
The plates then travel into the printing or where they are go into the presses. Huge, I mean MASSIVE – weighing up to 2 ton each, rolls of paper travel automatically into the presses. Once all is in place, a button is pushed and the presses begin to roll.
The paper shoots through at quite some speed and it was thrilling see the white paper begin to turn into finished newspapers as it whizzed through the operation. At the end, a fully printed, folded and stapled paper comes off at the end. All bound and ready for loading onto wagon to take to distribution centres.
Then, when I come downstairs for my breakfast cereal, a copy lies waiting on my door mat.
Various pictures from today.