How The Record began – The pioneers and the present

05 Jul 2024

By The Record

How The Record Began
A general view of the Factory during the production of “The Record”. Photo: The Record.

The publication of this year’s Christmas Number marks the most ambitious production of “The Record” office in the 63 years of its history. From an insignificant beginning – the veriest mustard seed – there has grown the promise of a really powerful organ of official Catholic opinion. It is not that the paper has shown an inevitable progress, but that in the vicissitudes of time it would seem, for the moment “The Record” is mounting towards the crest of a wave.

The “Western Australian Catholic Record” was first published on July 6, 1874. It had its origin in a generation when there was little room for Catholic matters or Catholic opinion in the local secular press of the time. It was the sole public voice of the handful of Catholics against the bitter prejudice and intolerance of the majority who refused to Catholics a measure of justice and even ordinary civic rights.

The automatic printing press. Photo: The Record.

The Pioneers
Rev. Father Matthew Gibney and Mr. J. T. Reilly were the prime movers in a rather hazardous enterprise. With the consent of the Administrator, Very Rev. M. Griver O.S.B., a printing press and plant was purchased at a cost of £120 and removed with difficulty through the heavy sand from Perth to Subiaco, where it was set up in one of the large rooms in the Orphanage.

The first impression was taken on silk, and was in the possession of the first editor, Mr. J. T. Reilly, until his death, when it was passed into the keeping of the late Bishop Gibney. Among the contributors to the first number were Father M. Gibney and Father O’Reilly, both of whom subsequently wore the mitre.

Father Gibney succeeded Dr. Griver in the See of Perth, and Father O’Reilly became Archbishop of Adelaide. They were stirring times. There was unending controversy on education. Freemasonry, the treatment of natives, etc. By degress it became a formidable propagandist weapon, and its strong position in the community to-day was made possible only by the fore-sight, courage and enduring patience of those pioneers.

Honoured Names
In so confined a sketch it is impossible to do justice to all the men, lay and clerical, who have not only built up “The Record” to its present proportions, but have struggled to keep it in existence during particularly difficult times, as, for instance, were the war years. Among those names, those of the late Monsignor Burke, the late Archdeacon Smyth, the late Father Keogh, Rev. Father Brennan (now a Redemptorist in the Philippines), Rev. Father Lynch, Rev. Father Dunne, Rev. Dr McMahon, the Bryan family, Mr. Thomas Slattery, the late Father T. O’Grady, Mr. F. Drew, will be long and gratefully remembered.

The office of the Managing Editor. Photo: The Record.

A New Phase
Towards the end of 1936, His Grace Archbishop Prendiville gave his consent to the purchase of a new press and plant. This involved a very heavy expenditure, but was thoroughly justified, both by the yeoman service of the old machinery and by the increased circulation and advertising which called for faster and more efficient methods of production. The new plant (pictured above) consists of: –

  • An automatic press, compete with suction feed and pile delivery, capable of printing 3,000 sheets per hour.
  • An automatic platen, for commercial work, capable of a speed of 3,600 runs per hour.
  • An hydraulic guillotine.
  • A semi-automatic folding machine.
  • New fonts of Australian and German type.

Since the installation of the plant early in the year, the whole arrangement of the factory has been re-organised. Each machine has its own motor and is so situated as to avoid delay and ensure the passage of the paper from one department to another without needless energy and waste of time. A jobbing department, capable of handling all classes of high-grade work, is functioning smoothly.

The improvements were immediately reflected by substantial circulation increases in almost all parishes, and by greatly increased advertising demands on space. During the year “The Record” has increased from 24 to 32 pages to meet this demand.

All this has been made possible by the keen personal interest of the Archbishop, the parish priests, voluntary agents, advertisers and subscribers. To one and all we extend our warm thanks and trust they will favour us with their continued enthusiasm and support in the future.