Back in the early 1980’s, I was quite heavily involved with the Maidstone & Mid-Kent Branch of CAMRA. I was living in the county town at the time, having bought my first house there. I had been a CAMRA member for around five years previously, but had not been actively involved with the Campaign in any shape or form; apart from drinking “real ale” and buying the Good Beer Guide.
|"Draught Copy" - 21st Century style|
I enjoyed my new role, especially as it got me out of the house and visiting pubs I might not otherwise have bothered with. The branch seemed pleased as well, as not long after I was asked to join the committee. Again, this was a position I was pleased to fill and I found myself helping out in various ways, including helping to organise and run a beer festival.
Things were going well for the branch until sometime around 1982-83. Then, in a shock announcement, the then branch chairman, informed us that he and his family would be moving to Andover in Hampshire, where they would be taking over the running of a pub, on behalf of the recently formed Bourne Valley Brewery.
Now this was a good move on Dave’s part, as despite being a fully qualified personnel officer, he had been out of work for as long as I had known him; although he had filled his time by managing a couple of local pubs. The latter experience, coupled with his knowledge of beer and brewing, gained partly through CAMRA, stood him in good stead for the pub job. The fact that he knew Bourne Valley’s founder, James Lynch (again through CAMRA), was obviously another point in his favour – who says CAMRA doesn’t open doors to a new career?
Dave and his family weren’t due to move straight away, so he was able to give me some assistance. Back in the early 1980’s though, there were no PC’s and no desk-top publishing programmes. Instead everything had to be typed out manually. The branch had sensibly invested in an electric typewriter, especially for the newsletter. Manual typewriters, for those who can remember, tend to produce very uneven looking print; the degree of inking being directly related to the force applied when striking the keys! Electric models produce a more even text, which is both pleasing to the eye and much easier to read. Typing up copy was therefore no problem, but headings and sub-headings were a different matter.
Letraset were best known for their dry rub-down transfer technique, which was used to create “camera-ready artwork”. Right up to the mid 1980’s, Letraset sheets were used extensively by professional and amateur graphic designers, architects and artists to produce affordable and attractive artwork of a professional appearance. I certainly used it to create headings and sub-headings for “Draught Copy”.
For many years, Letraset were based in Ashford; the East Kent town where I grew up and went to school. The company have since moved to Le Mans, in France. Rather than me trying to explain how the process worked, this short YouTube video gives a neat demonstration on how to use “Dry Transfer Lettering”.
I mentioned “camera-ready artwork” earlier. This is a common term used in the commercial printing industry meaning that a document is, from a technical standpoint, ready to "go to press", or be printed. In offset printing the term referred to where the final layout of a document was attached to a "paste up". Then, a “copy camera” was used to photograph the paste up, and the final offset printing plates were created from the camera's negative.
It’s worth mentioning that the term "paste up”, meant literally that! Columns and blocks of type-written print were cut up and pasted onto a paper or card backing, along with the relevant headings, sub-headings and any illustrations. “Cow Gum” or “Prit-Stick” were the favourite adhesives, but everything had to be lined up so it was level and square. One trick was to use lines drawn with a light blue crayon, as these would not be picked up by the copy camera. "Tipp-Ex", and other similar correcting fluids, helped to cover up any imperfections or paste-up lines.
|Cut & Paste|
We had a member who worked in the print trade primarily with the repair and setting up of printing presses. Because of the nature of the job, he worked mainly nights, so was normally unable to get along to CAMRA meetings, but by using his skills within the print trade he was able to provide the branch with a professional-looking newsletter for a fraction of the normal cost.
How this worked was as follows. Once I had produced said artwork, I would phone this individual and we would arrange to meet; normally in a car park somewhere between Maidstone and the Medway Towns, which was where he lived. I would hand over the artwork, and then wait a week or so for his call. We would meet up again; I would hand over some cash in exchange for a neatly bound stack of around 500 copies of the latest edition of "Draught Copy".
|Detail from a modern off-set printing plate|
This represented my first foray into the world of printing, but on the creative side, writing the bulk of the copy for the newsletter gave me a valuable insight into the world of writing, and has time went on, helped me to increase my confidence and become a better writer.
In 1985, for business and personal reasons, I moved to Tonbridge, some 15 miles from Maidstone, but in a different CAMRA branch area. By the time I got involved with the new branch (actually I was one of four people who resurrected what had become a moribund group), and helped set up a new branch magazine, things had moved on in the world of publishing and things were about to go digital.
We will leave the story there for the moment, apart from saying getting involved with desk-top publishing was every bit as steep a learning curve as the previous “cut and paste” method had been.
THIS BLOG claims no credit for any images posted on this site unless otherwise noted. Images on this blog are copyright to their respectful owners. If there is an image appearing on this blog that belongs to you and do not wish for it appear on this site, please E-mail with a link to said image and it will be promptly removed.