There are fears for Australia’s largest-remaining letterpress museum following a contentious decision to resume the land it stands on for a new sports stadium.
The NSW state government has announced it will resume the site of the Penrith Paceway and Penrith showground if commercial negotiations to buy it failed.
Among winners are NRL club Penrith Panthers, who retain their existing home next year and probably while the new stadium is built.
Among losers is the Penrith Museum of Printing, whose building occupies space between two grounds.
Paceway chief executive Tash Greentree had been hoping the government would help the club find a new site locally, but this now appears unlikely. Similar considerations apply for the museum, which features exhibits including linotype machines and a Wharfedale sheetfed press. It reopened late last year after a substantial pandemic closure period.
The Paceway – which holds weekly harness racing meetings – had hoped its land would be rescheduled for residential development, with the result that it would be able to afford to move elsewhere. Rezoning the land now seems unlikely and the issue has been complicated by the resignation of Penrith MP Stuart Ayres.
However, the museum, which was recently extended – partly with the aid of a substantial grant from the newspaper industry’s Single Width Users’ Group (SWUG) – does not own the land on which its buildings stand.
Like the Paceway, the museum attracts and occupies a large number of locals, playing a role in educating people about printing processes and history. Established in 2001, it includes letterpress machinery saved from the local Nepean Times, a weekly published from 1882-1962. President Bob Lockley was print and logistics managing director of Fairfax Media until it was acquired and split up by Nine Entertainment.
In a report in local weekly Weekender, he says that while the group knew it might need to move in coming years, it spent $130,000 received from industry contacts three years ago to expand “on the belief we wouldn’t be going anywhere soon”.
Now the museum needs to find a new home quickly and fears if it has nowhere to go, the equipment will have to be broken up and scrapped “and the trade and history be lost forever”.
Email Bob Lockley or phone 0415 625 573.
Pictured: One of the historic typesetting machines at the museum