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Tuesday, 20 November, 2001, 06:07 GMT
Good news for historic press
printing press
The press has been assembled at the museum
The last remaining "hot-metal" press used on Fleet Street is unveiled at the National Science Museum on Tuesday.

The 140-tonne machine was transported in pieces to the Wiltshire wing of the museum at Wroughton, where it has been reconstructed for display.

Towering at nine metres tall, by nine-and-a-half metres long, the Woods printing press dates back to the mid-1930s.

It was in operation at Northcliffe House - home of the Daily Mail and Evening Standard - until the advent of new technology.

The press represents the end of and era that spanned 500 years

Dr John Griffiths, Science Museum curator

The late 1980s saw a rapid transformation of the newspaper industry, which abandoned traditional presses in favour of digital.

This led to the majority of the original printing presses - which used hot metal to set the letters being used on the page - being dismantled and destroyed.

The museum will give the huge press a permanent home, preserving it for future generations.

It was transferred from a storage site in Dartford, Kent, to Wroughton in early March.

Since then it has been painstakingly restored and rebuilt, ready for public display.

'Iconic status'

Science Museum curator, Dr John Griffiths, said: "The Woods press is the last hot-metal press to survive the break up of Fleet Street and it represents the end of and era that spanned 500 years.

"Its preservation, in perpetuity, as part of the National Collections of Science and Technology ensures its iconic status.

"We are proud to be involved in such an important acquisition."

Six aircraft hangars, covering an acre of land at the Wroughton site, house 20,000 large scientific and mechanical objects which are too big to go on display at the main National Science Museum in London.

They include aircraft, agricultural machinery, computers and space rockets.

See also:

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