Bygones: Plenty of helpers to roll out the school magazine
RECENT mention of school magazines prompted Leslie Peatfield, of Scartho, to get in touch.
Leslie told us: "I have quite a collection of school magazines from various schools in the town, but the oldest ones I have are three Armstrong Street Senior School magazines from 1939 and 1940, and two magazines from South Parade Junior Mixed School, produced in 1941 and 1942.
"The class magazines from Armstrong Street Senior School were produced by my brother's class in 1939 and 1940, when he was 12-13. They were 'printed' by means of the Hectograph or 'jelly bed' method on to ordinary exercise book paper.
"This method was primitive and gave copies in gradually reducing quality, so that the first copy off the "jelly bed" was very clear and bold, but as more copies were made the ink became fainter and fainter.
"No effort was made to ensure that the magazines were assembled in order of clarity; thus one copy of the magazine could contain a mixture of extremely clear pages, mediocre ones and very faint pages.
"The 'jelly bed' consisted of a mixture of gelatine and glycerine (I do not know the proportions) which was boiled and then poured into an extremely shallow tray.
"The boys wrote their own articles by hand using an ordinary school pen and special hectograph ink, usually in purple because this gave the clearest result, though it was possible to obtain other coloured inks.
"The master copy was then pressed face downwards onto the now cold bed of jelly, leaving behind an impression of the article in reverse.
"To make copies the boys then placed a piece of paper on to the 'jelly bed' and then used a rubber roller to press it down. The paper was then peeled off the jelly and then, lo and behold, a copy of the original was clearly printed.
"As more and more copies were made from the jelly, the impressions became progressively weaker and more pressure had to be applied to the roller.
"As already stated, it was possible to use coloured inks but these seemed to fade much more quickly.
"The magazines of South Parade Junior School were produced by a slightly better form of duplication. These were printed by some of the older pupils on a flatbed hand-operated duplicator, and the method was as follows.
The headteacher, Mr Edgar Smith, pecked with two fingers at a small portable typewriter with the ribbon removed on to a waxed stencil.
"Thus, the letters were cut into the stencil, which was then placed on a wooden hinged frame over which was stretched a very fine gauze.
"A roller was applied to a slate bed charged with duplicator ink, and when the roller was full of duplicating ink the hinged frame containing the stencil was brought down over the paper, and the inky roller was pressed on to the stencil by rolling it.
"The ink was thus squeezed through the typed stencil onto the paper. A slow and laborious process – but there was never a shortage of volunteers among the boy pupils to perform this arduous task! There was, however, a shortage of volunteers to sew the pages together with thread.
"Although this method gave a better print than 'jelly beds' most of the time, the quality varied considerably as it was dependent upon the children applying the same pressure and the same amount of ink to each impression.
"Due to war time conditions the quality of the paper also varied, and some of it was extremely poor and fragile."