George Cunningham

(Haddington Courier)

2007/74/1 George Cunningham interviewed in his home in Haddington by Sarah Bromage on 8th May 2007

Mr Cunningham began work as a machineman at the Haddington Courier when he was 15 in 1961. He worked there until he retired in 2004. Mr Cunningham remembers dinner dances and annual trips during his time at the Courier.

0000 Was born 6/4/1946 at the Simpson Hospital, Edinburgh. Grew up in Haddington. Stayed near river in cottage. In 1948 flood in Haddington and had to move. Went to Knox Academy 1951 - 1961
0111 Was not sure what wanted to do when left school. Did not give it much thought. His mum found out about job and got interview. Interview with editor for machineman job. Had exam to check that he was competent. Eye test.
0250 6 year apprenticeship and finished in 1967. Went to night school at Heriot Watt and then Napier College. Night school 1 night for 2 years. Day release on a Wednesday.
0409 2 classes that were split with 20 in each class. People from all over. Especially to learn about other firms. Found classes useful in job.
0500 Two printers in work, journeyman and guy who had just finished apprenticeship. Heavy job; hadto lift onto presses
0540 Dirty job and worked with a lot of chemicals. Wore boiler suits. Place was in dark ages and quite poky.
0617 First pay was two pound nine and ninepence before apprenticeship but them went up.
0645 Work roles in the Courier, good to do different things. Would print Town Council accounts.
0739 Raffle tickets, dance tickets, books. No sales department at start but then brought in print sales. Went to four colour work at end.
0824 Hours 8-5 if standard. Overtime 5-8 but as getting older found it a bit much. Most of the time the office was busy.
0914 Location of print room in building on ground floor. Heavy machines needed concrete floors. Re-jig of offices. Two readers including John Wood.
1033 Would print paper on Thursday, had to rely on getting plate from up stairs. Would print at 4.30pm on rotary but before that hand fed wharfedale machines. Was a tough job which took ages.
1156 Got rotary in 1966, was meant to be a stop gap but never happened. In 1961 had to print 10,000 or 11,000 and eventually 16,000 a week. Covered East Lothian.
1247 Change in technology. Brought in typesetting and computers which replaced hot metal.
1334 Rotary Press would have to work late but later got deadlines so would finish earlier.
1405 Journalists always going around and would come down if they were printing paper. Latterly departments did not mix as much as had different breaks.
1510 Editor Mr Annand who died in 1965. Ken Whitson took over as editor and became Managing Director. The editors changed over the years. Split editor from East to West. Different editors
1700 Member of Scottish Typographical Association which turned into SOGAT and then AMICUS. AMICUS joined with other union.
1821 Union fees. Paid to the Chapel Clerk and then taken off with wages. Father of Chapel, three committee members. Was Clerk of Chapel at for 6 years. Would take down minutes of meetings
2030 Boss not happy with union. FOC would go to meetings in Edinburgh. Money taken to the Bank and not the Union offices
2113 1959 strike was only strike at the Courier. But was national overtime ban but was for only one week. Close shop.
2200 Paid into local fund which paid for dances and trips. Sick fund: would get 6 months full sick pay.
2320 Sick pay reduced over the years and would not be paid for 12 weeks. Was off 8 weeks once for an operation
2400 Convalescent home in Ayr but nobody used it.
2500 Annual Dinner Dances, events at dances, dances tailing off and locations of dances.
Dog enters room.
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