A reproduction of "The Knotty" magazine as published by The North Staffordshire Railway Company (1978) Ltd.

 The magazine at this time was typed out onto a "skin", the type cutting out the shape of a letter, which explains why the centre of some letters is missing - "O" for example. The pages were then printed by means of a Gestetner machine. There were no PC's with spell checkers in those early days and so any typing mistakes on the skin had to be painted over with a kind of nail varnish solution, allowed to set, then overtyped, having tried to realign the type in the typewriter of course. There were no easily available photocopiers and so the Gestetner was used. This comprised a drum over which the skin had to be stretched and clamped and the drum filled with a thick gooey ink from a metal tube. Paper was loaded onto a tray and, as a handle was wound round, the drum would rotate and miraculously collect a piece of paper and print onto it by squeezing ink through the cut out letters on the skin. Put the skin onto the drum the wrong way round and the print came out in reverse and the page had to be typed again. Each page had to be rescued as it came off the drum and allowed to dry in isolation. Once the odd numbered pages had been printed and allowed to fully dry they had to be fed through again to print even numbered pages on the reverse - get the compilation wrong and you start again. When everything had been allowed to dry once again, the pages had to be compiled in the correct order and stapled together. There are stories of young children being forced into staying up until all hours of the night covered head to toe in ink and, while weeping bitterly, collating and stapling magazines together and then stuffing them into envelopes (addressed by hand) in order to make the deadline. Those children today may hate steam engines forever but they are probably now the captains of industry and understanding deadlines to the full!

 So, if everything was typed and there were no PC's with infinite fonts available, how were the front covers produced? Well there was (and still is) a product called Letraset where quantities of letters were stuck onto a translucent sheet with a protective covering film on the back. The backing film was removed and each letter lined up and rubbed onto the paper with a suitable implement (usually the end of a bic biro), effectively a transfer similar to those we rubbed onto our arms as children (well I did!). Any illustrations had to be produced by hand and then the whole page copied onto a skin - this had to be carried out by third parties because a sophisticated piece of machinery was used - it cost a great deal of money in those days but hey, it was a labour of love.

 This then was Knotty number 18 from Spring 1979

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