Montrose man featured in book

Former Review employee John A Smith with a new book that he has been featured in
Former Review employee John A Smith with a new book that he has been featured in

A former Review letterpress printer has been featured in a new book of eye witness accounts of people growing up in north-east Scotland.

John A. Smith (66), of Cairnwell Crescent, Montrose, worked for the Review for 33 years on the printing press machines and the story of his career has been told in ‘Grampian Lives 2’ by David Northcroft.

Mr Smith said: “I saw an advert in Leopard Magazine calling for people to come forward who had been in trades that are no longer around.”

He started his printing career in 1963 with the Montrose Standard when he was taken on as an apprentice at the age of 16. When he was 17, he moved to the Review after a trade union dispute, and began a five-year apprenticeship in letterpress printing.

As he was completing his apprenticeship, the former journeyman letterpress printer left for a new job, and Mr Smith was offered the role. He said: “It was the biggest offer I got in my whole working life. It was my job and my responsibility to get the papers printed and out onto the streets. It was a hands on labour intensive job but it was a job for life.”

He added: “We were constantly battling against deadlines. If a big story broke, we had to stop the press and take out a minor story.”

In 1990, Mr Smith received a gold watch for his 25 years’ service. Seven years later, he retired.

The letterpress printing of the Review stopped in 1982 and the printing works closed on January 14, 2000. Mr Smith said: “The week after it closed, I went back to have one last look around. On a Wednesday afternoon there used to be so much activity and noise, but there was an eerie feeling. It was just silent.”

In 2009, when the paper moved to Murray Street, Mr Smith saved the Heidelberg printing machine from being destroyed and arranged for the National Museum of Scotland, in Edinburgh, to take it.