‘A lovely, uncynical thing’ – Glastonbury newspaper celebrates 10th year

Glastonbury Festival’s resident newspaper is celebrating its 10th year in residence, with one member of the printing team saying “people didn’t used to know who we were – now everybody knows about us”.

Since its launch in 2013, the Glastonbury Free Press has offered news from across the festival at Worthy Farm in Somerset – it is printed on site at the festival with a vintage five-tonne Heidelberg printing press, which itself turns 70 this year.

Glastonbury co-organiser Emily Eavis told the PA news agency: “We like the idea of providing a newspaper – it’s quite old school now, many people don’t read newspapers anymore, but we produce this paper which is just entirely for the world that we’re in for these five days.”

Two editions – one on Thursday and one on Sunday – are produced at the festival every year, with up to 30,000 copies distributed across the site for festival-goes to enjoy.

“(It is) written by people from the festival, on the festival, during the festival,” Adrian Manning, who leads the printing team of the Glastonbury Free Press, told PA.

“It’s an interesting thing as well as being an information point.

Glastonbury's resident newspaper during printing at the festivalA vintage five-tonne Heidelberg press is used to print news from the festival (Tom Leese/PA).

“It’s bigger than it used to be. People didn’t used to know who we were – now everybody knows about us.”

Chris Salmon, who has written for every edition of the Glastonbury Free Press since its inception in 2013, said “it’s a wonderful thing”.

“This is the 10th year from a sort of madcap idea of getting a vintage Heidelberg printer, and putting it in a field without really being sure how that was going to work,” Mr Salmon told PA.

“It’s a ridiculous thing that we literally put this 70-year-old Heidelberg press – it’s such a beautiful machine – in a tent in the theatre and circus area, and print the paper through the night and people can come and pick it up.”

Adrian Manning, who leads the printing team of the Glastonbury Free PressAdrian Manning leads the printing staff of the Glastonbury-Free Press (Tom Leese/PA).

The paper’s printing blocks are produced in Bristol before being transported to Somerset, where workers produced 30,000 copies with the 1953 press for Thursday’s edition – a process which can see them start printing at 8am in the morning and finish at around midnight.

Articles in Thursday’s paper ranged from DJ Eliza Rose’s top tips for debut ravers to a Q&A with Joe Wicks on what to expect from his Friday morning workout in the Theatre & Circus Field, as well as a piece from Pete Paphides, British journalist and broadcaster, delving into his 30 years of memories at Glastonbury to pick his favourite vantage points from across the site.

Many festival-goers watch the printing process in its tent where posters are sold, and free papers are given out.

“The first papers come off the press just after midnight and there’s always people buzzing around,” Mr Salmon said.

“The printers are just legendary people, all of whom have been in printing all their lives, who are just amazing.

“You see people coming down who used to work in Fleet Street 50 years ago who are just so excited to see a Heidelberg – and you get five and six-year-olds whose minds are being blown that this thing is kind of spewing out tens of thousands of copies of a newspaper.”

The Heidelberg printing press used onsite to print Glastonbury's resident newspaperThis year, the Heidelberg printing press that prints the newspaper will celebrate its 70th birthday (Tom Leese/PA).

Mr Salmon added that he hopes the Glastonbury Free Press “will be at the festival for a long time to come”.

“It’s just a lovely, uncynical, very Glastonbury thing, just trying to make the experience a bit more special,” he said.

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