Cast of stage comedy The Wipers Times visit historic printing press at Salford Museum & Art Gallery

7th November 2017

Stars of The Wipers Times had the chance to get up close to a slice of printing history when they dropped in to Salford Museum and Art Gallery this week.

The stage adaptation of Ian Hislop and Nick Newman’s award-winning BBC film is at Opera House Manchester from Tuesday 31 October until Saturday 4 November.

George Kemp who plays Lt Pearson, and James Dutton (Captain Roberts), visited the museum to see a press similar to the one on which the legendary wartime trenches newspaper would have been printed a century ago.

The museum’s Columbian "Eagle" Printing Press was built in 1849 by London company Wood & Sharwoods, although they left their own name off the machinery and instead mention "George Clymer" to cash in on the popularity of his press.

The press was donated to the museum in 1968 by J.A. Sanderson & Sons Ltd of Sheffield. Sanderson & Sons were printers, stationers, ticket and poster writers. At present, damage to the frame means the press – on show in Lark Hill Place, a recreated Victorian Salford street inside the museum - cannot be used, but conservationists are seeking funds to restore it to its former working glory.  You can donate £10 by texting ‘SALF44’ to 70070 or select online giving to support the work of Salford Community Leisure, which operates Salford Museum & Art Gallery and the campaign to get the printing press restored.

The Wipers Times tells the true and extraordinary story of the satirical newspaper created in the mud and mayhem of the Somme, interspersed with comic sketches and spoofs from the vivid imagination of those on the front line.

In a bombed out building during the First World War in the Belgian town of Ypres (mis-pronounced Wipers by British soldiers), two officers discover a printing press and create a newspaper for the troops. Far from being a sombre journal about life in the trenches, they produced a resolutely cheerful, subversive and very funny newspaper designed to lift the spirits of the men on the front line.

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