I am working through the early editions, and converting them to electronic copies. The first edition (November 1991), is now available.
First Edition - November 1991
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The Church of St Mary decided back in the nineteen-sixties to produce a church notice sheet, 'The Church Messenger', that would be delivered to all the houses in Gamlingay. This newssheet, although initially intended to cover the events of St Mary's, very soon expanded to include many village events as well. Being non-sectarian the leaflet regularly covered news from the Baptist Church.
The Village History Society has copies of many back issues of both the Messenger and The Gazette. Incidentally all editions of the Church Messenger were sent to the British Library for archive, and should be available for scrutiny.
These early editions were typewritten on 'foolscap' sized paper, folded to give the orientation for a folded newsletter. For a short time the master copy was sent off to a printer in Liverpool, who produced 1200 copies; these were distributed by a loyal band of volunteers to the whole village.
In the early seventies my wife, Margaret, took over the typing of the master copy. This was on a manual typewriter, how technology has changed (this will become apparent through this article).
In the late nineteen-seventies the cost of commercial printing was becoming too high and the church purchased a duplicator. Just to show how things were in those days I must describe this machine (from the age of dinosaurs!)
The Duplicator worked by using a waxed paper sheet, both the paper and the wax layer were very thin. A typewriter could be used to impress, through the wax, the text that needed to be reproduced. Simple drawings and other graphics could be drawn directly onto the stencil (as the waxed paper was called), to produce simple lines. If the typewriter keys were pressed too hard, the centre of the 'O' and other enclosed characters could be cut out completely!
The stencil was placed in the duplicator, and ink was applied to the stencil, this ink could be pressed through the areas of the stencil that had been impressed by the typewriter. The process inevitably involved inky fingers, and several dud sheets!
Copies were original produced manually by cranking a handle - 1200 copies of, say two sheets, double sided, meant a lot of cranking! Luckily the machine was eventually updated for an electric model!
In the late nineteen-seventies I acquired what must have been then, one of the first desktop publishing packages - this was before the days of Windows and ran under an operating system called 'GEM'. It had about eight fonts, each in about 5 or 6 different sizes (I don't recall them being labelled as font sizes!). Using this software I was able to produce a stencil using a 'dot matrix' printer that was able to produce thousands of dots on the stencil that could be arranged to form text or simple black and white graphics. The stencil had to be cut in half to produce the right orientation of the page, the stencils were then glued together with a special glue (I seem to remember it being a bright 'Barbie' pink).
The Church Messenger continued in this format until the early nineteen nineties, when Edward Nobes, the then Rector, suggested that the name be change to separate the implication that the Newsletter was a church based publication. It was changed to the 'Gamlingay Gazette', the name has continued to date.
The original production methods were the same as for the Church Messenger, though technology had advanced considerably. I now had a simple scanner, this was manually dragged over the graphic, and I then was able to include more graphics - even the occasional photo, though the resolution was very poor - only slightly worse than that that of the national newspapers of the time. How technology has changed!
The effort and time taken to produce The Gazette was becoming a problem, so help was advertised for, The Gazette was no longer produced by St Mary's church, but became a separate entity, and was organised by a small committee. The original principles were strongly adhered to - with legal constraints, all articles submitted would be published, The Gazette would be non-political and non-partisan. It was non-profit making and was produced and distributed on a volunteer basis.
I started the Village web-site in 1997, and in 2000 published The Gazette on the web through this source. I use a simple piece of counter software to know how many visits each page on the web is accessed. This tells me that there are currently over 100, sometimes 150, regular readers of The Gazette on the web - mainly from California, Australia, New-Zealand and Hong Kong; many of these are Gamlingay ex-pats (several of who I know and are in communication with). There are in addition about 20 or so other readers of The Gazette on-line.
As a volunteer deliverer of The Gazette I am constantly impressed by the regular readers on my 'patch'; all of those who have notices on the door: "no free papers" I have checked with all say - "Oh yes we definitely want The Gazette"
A moving note, thanks to The Gazette:
Some years ago I received a query from someone who lived in Leicester, concerning their uncle, who died as a PoW on the Burma Railway. They knew he had had friends in Gamlingay, and wondered if anyone remembered him. I published the details in The Gazette, and within hours of it being delivered, I received two phone calls, one from a comrade who was actually at his bedside when he died. I was then able to help reunite these two families - a very moving experience.
The Gamlingay Gazette started in November 1997
There are hard copies of both the Church Messenger and the Gazette available. In the year 2000, it was decided to publish the Gazette on the web, as part of the Gamlingy pages www.gamlingay.org). Unfortunately, the format of the copy was not in a format that could be easily published on the web, and had to be converted into a suitable format. This work occupied me for about 3 or 4 days each month. There were some advantages, I was able to 'animate' several parts, notably the club and society logos; for instance the Tennis Club rackets bat a ball between them, the Players 'masks' alternately frown and smile, the Wildlife Trust badger winks at you!
In 2008 new software was used to produce the Gazette, which enabled a PDF format to used, which is easily understood by the web.
As the electronic version started in 2008, these are the only ones available for an electronic archive. Even then, somehow I seem to have a few copies missing probably due to a change in computers (I have had a few since this all started!) and some probably got lost in the ether with the various backups.
It is fun to look back over the past 17 years and see the changes that have been reported in the village.