Culture and heritage


NSW Government Printing Office, c1870

The first Government Printing Office was set up about 1796 in a printery behind the first Government House in Bridge Street, Sydney. This location reflected not only the concentration of the official establishment at that time, but also the origins of such departments in the office of the King's Printer first established in London in 1504 (Hasler 1980: 79).

This site on the corner of Bent and Phillip streets in Sydney's government quarter was set aside for a Government Printing Office in the mid-1850s (Concise Guide) in Section 107 of the City of Sydney town plan, although the Office seems to have operated from the site since at least 1840.

The lineal nature of the building, which replaced a small row of timber buildings on the site, may suggest the production line printing processes that were among some of the earlier machine-driven industrial processes introduced to NSW. A three-horsepower steam engine was installed in 1855 to operate the presses, and in 1861 a steam-powered folding machine was introduced (Concise Guide).

Some questions for research:

  1. See whether you can find any images of the Government Printing Office building that preceded this building on the site - what do they suggest about the developing technologies of printing?
  2. How important is the continual evolution of printing technologies in spreading images of official symbols and emblems?

Image Source: State Library of NSW, GPO 1 - 05645 State Library of NSW, Picman

Page last updated: 01 September 2012