Saturday, December 3, 2022

Know your local – Laurie Shanks

Recent stories

Julie Hough, Tarrangower Times

Laurie Shanks
Laurie has been a linotype mechanic since he was
15-years-old. Photo: Julie Hough.

Well I’m originally from Melbourne. I started working when I was 15 at trade typesetters Topless and Grenfell as a linotype mechanic on a six-year apprenticeship. I did four years as a fitter and turner and two years at printing school concentrating on printing machine maintenance. I was 21 by the time I’d finished.

I then went on and did a three and a half year stint with Dovers maintaining their printing machines before moving across to the Herald and Weekly Times, maintaining their linotype and typesetting machines. That would have been in the early 1960s. I spent five years there.

In 1968 I commenced work with The Age newspaper and stayed for 10 years before the introduction of the digital platform. This transitional period saw around 500 staff retrenched and the end of my time as a linotype mechanic.

Lauri Shanks with linotype
Laurie is a volunteer at the Maldon Machinery Museum. Photo: Julie Hough.

The opportunity then arose to work in the family trucking business, driving tip trucks and oil tankers. I did this for five years.

Over the following years, I worked in the food industry and also drove buses for the bus company Grenda’s as well as Berwick Bus Lines.

Then came the tree change.

It was 2001 when my wife and I came to live and retire in Maldon.

Shortly after, I joined the Maldon Fire Brigade (I’m still a member today), and it was there I met a few blokes, including Peter Thompson, who were members of the Machinery Museum.

They were talking about how they had promised to get this linotype machine originally used by the Tarrangower Times up and running at the museum for a working display during the newspaper’s 150th Anniversary celebrations.

Tarrangower Times original linotype
Originals used by the Tarrangower Times were used in the paper’s 150th Anniversary celebrations. Photo: Julie Hough.

Anyway, one day I was sitting at the kitchen table having lunch and in marched four members of the museum. One of them was Peter Thompson, who knew I had been a linotype mechanic. They literally picked me up in my chair and said, ‘we have six weeks to get this linotype running. It’s no good, it’s broken down, can you fix it?’ And so I went with them to take a look at its condition and said, ‘all this is good for is to use as a marine anchor, attach a long chain and go throw it in Port Philip Bay!’ But I reneged, and I did end up fixing it and got it up and running for the Tarrangower Times 150th Anniversary. That was in 2008, and I have been a member of the museum ever since, which makes it 14 years this year.

I also have a keen interest in trains, building and running miniature locos with other like-minded people at the Loddon Miniature Railway.

I love the printing side of life and enjoy coming to the museum to maintain the machinery and run the printing shop when I can and share my knowledge with others on the printing processes from days past.

Tarrangower Times 25 March 2022

This article appeared in the Tarrangower Times, 25 March 2022.

Julie Hough is writing a series of profiles showcasing the wonderful volunteers at Maldon Vintage Machinery and Museum called ‘Meet our Members’.



Sign up to the Australian Rural & Regional News weekly newsletter

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

For all the news from the Tarrangower Times, go to