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A FAMILY OF PRINTERS
In the year 1897 when Queen Victoria was at the zenith of her popularity and the country was enjoying a rich spell of prosperity free from the threat of war, a 12 year old schoolboy left his home at Hawkers Cottages on the Bristol Road and walked into Bridgwater in search of work. On reaching Fore Street, he paused, looked around, then plucking up courage went into the printing office of Page & Son, where he was engaged at an apprentice printer.
He was Harry Garry who now lives at 95 Bath Road where he himself attends to all his wants, his wife having died 25 years ago. Mr. Gay took to printing as a duck takes to water, and for 38 years he remained in the employ of the firm in the days when all type-setting was done by hand, until the time when it was taken over my Messrs. Whitby, Light & Lane.
As the new type-setting processes came into being – such as the Monotype and Linotype machines – Mr. Gay was not confounded but took to these methods with a confidence born of great love in his work. He is 68 years old and still works for Messrs. Whitby, Light & Lane. Mr. Gay has two sons, and in 1924 one of them, Harry Gay (jnr.) became an apprentice at his father’s place of employment. In 1934 the other son, Bernard followed in the same steps and in 1953, Colin, the only son of Harry Gay (jnr.) began his apprenticeship with the same firm.
Between them these three generations of printers have put in 105 years in the trade and it must be a record that is perhaps unequalled in the country. The four of them still work at Messrs. Whitby, Light & Lane Ltd.
Mr. Gay (snr.) told a Mercury reporter last week, “From the moment they were old enough to understand my two boys and grandson wanted to follow me in my work, and they are happy and settled in their work.”
This is not only a great tribute to the printing trade, but to the employer who has provided such satisfactory conditions throughout the years.
The only break Mr. Gay had away from his work was in the first World War when he served in the Oxfordshire & Bucks Light Infantry, and by the time he returned from the war his fingers were simply itching to pick up type once again.
When Mr. Gay started work 56 years ago he was one of six in the employ of Messrs. Page & Son. Mr. Gay is keeping in good health and takes a close interest in all aspects of the printing industry.