Baird's Print Shop
In the days long before photocopiers and digital printers, many Ulster towns had a jobbing printer. Their job was to cater for the printing requirements of local institutions, businesses, politicians, clergy and local government.
They printed everything from billheads, dockets and labels for businesses to leaflets and posters for churches and social organisations. In larger towns, where the volume of printed material was greater, jobbing printers provided printed information notices for the police, and in some towns a weekly newspaper provided regular work for the printer. By the end of the 19th century, printers were also supplying considerable amounts of advertising material for the railways, such as notices of special excursions and timetables (get close by clicking on the images).
In an age before radio and television, newspapers provided the only source of news and up-to-date information. So part of the upper floor of the museum print shop is laid out as a Newspaper Reading Room, once a common feature of Ulster towns in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. By paying an annual subscription, people had access to the main London, Dublin, Belfast and local newspapers.
The development of public libraries and the advent of radio meant that these reading rooms had disappeared by the 1950s.
Original location: New Row, Coleraine, County Londonderry
The museum print shop building was designed to support a 17th century roof, rescued during development work in New Row, Coleraine. This old roof, which can be seen by passing through the upper floor of the police barracks, is a rare architectural survival, displaying the joinery techniques of the Plantation (early 17th century) period.
The 1840s printing press is a Columbian Eagle, an imported American press which was used for many years for printing the Armagh Guardian, a local weekly newspaper.
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