What is a single width press?

The term single width refers to the width of the plate cylinder on a newspaper press. Typically, a single width press will have two printing plates mounted side-by-side on the plate cylinder printing onto a continuous roll of paper about 890mm wide. This configuration prints four pages of tabloid newspaper (two broadsheet pages) on each side of the web with each revolution of the plate cylinder, or eight pages in total.

Traditionally, the single width configuration was the most popular press type for printing small edition newspapers. The Goss Community SSC press, introduced in 1962, has sold more than 40,000 print units worldwide, making it the best selling single width press on the market and one which is still in widespread use today.

The history of SWUG

SWUG – it's a funny name but one with a proud history and a serious purpose.

SWUG stands for Single Width Users Group. It was originally set up for users of single width coldset newspaper presses in Australia and was founded in 1985 by Geoff Austin, production manager of the Gold Coast Bulletin, as a forum for production people to exchange ideas and information about the printing process at the grass roots level, that is the hands-on operators and engineers of the presses working in conjunction with the engineers and suppliers to the industry.

Geoff ran SWUG for several years (and is still a committee member) before handing over the presidency to Bob Lockley in 1990.

Over the years, SWUG has visited many different sites and the technology of newspaper printing has changed significantly. Today there is a wide variety of press types, not just single width, single circumference presses but also single width, double circumference (two plates around) and even double width, single circumference (four across, one around). SWUG has continued to adapt and evolve with the times and, these days, it is not unusual for users of double width presses and even commercial heatset presses to attend the conference and find it a useful forum for learning and exchanging information.

Despite the changes, SWUG remains very much a grass roots organisation, a forum in which production staff can learn, network, exchange ideas and problem solve. While many of the print sites that attend the conference are competitors, they recognise that a healthy exchange of ideas is good for the industry as a whole.


SWUG sites

Over the past 25 years or so, SWUG has visited many different newspaper sites around the country. The following is a roll-call of sites visited – who will be next?

1985 The Gold Coast Bulletin, Queensland
1987 Messenger Press, South Australia
1988 Manly Daily, NSW
1989 Leader Newspapers, Victoria
1990 Rural Press North Richmond, NSW
1991 Canweb, ACT
1992 Mackay Mercury, Queensland
1993 Queensland Times, Ipswich, Queensland
1996 Torch Newspapers, Bankstown, NSW
1997 The Gold Coast Bulletin, Queensland
1998/99 Bendigo Advertiser, Victoria
2000 Launceston Examiner, Tasmania;
2001 Fairfax Regional Printers, Newcastle, NSW
2002 Sunshine Coast Daily, Maroochydore, Queensland
2003 Daily Advertiser, Wagga Wagga, NSW
2004 The Gold Coast Bulletin, Queensland
2005 The Ballarat Courier, Victoria
2006 Murray Valley Standard, South Australia
2007 Sunshine Coast Daily, Yandina, Queensland
2009 Norske Skog mill/Border Mail, Albury, NSW
2010 Northern Daily Leader, Tamworth, NSW
2011 Mercury, Hobart, Tasmania
2012 Ormiston Print Centre, Queensland
2013 APN Print Rockhampton, Queensland
2014 NT News, Darwin, Northern Territory

About 40 delegates attended the first SWUG conference held at the Gold Coast Bulletin in 1985.

Geoff Austin, second from left, at the Gold Coast Bulletin in 1985.

Prime Minister John Howard was a passing visitor when SWUG visited Launceston in 2000.


Learn more about the history of SWUG including a full list of all site visits here.

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Contact us

PO Box 999
North Richmond NSW 2754
Email: swugconference@gmail.com
Tel: (02) 4570 4444