DCSIMG

Last British typewriter built at Welsh factory

  • by STEPHEN McGINTY
 

FOR the British typewriter it is the final full-stop. The last factory in Britain to manufacture the machines has announced that it has built its final typewriter and donated the machine to the

Science Museum in London.

The typewriter, which was last at the cutting edge of technology in the 1860s, has long since been replaced by word processors, computers and now tablets. But yesterday the Science Museum said the last machine represented the end of a technology which had been “important to so many lives”.

Manufacturer Brother has made 5.9 million typewriters since its factory in Wrexham opened in 1985, but demand has since fallen sharply in Britain.

While the company enjoys significant sales in the US, where organisations such as the New York Police Department still use manual typewriters for evidence reports, their factory in the Far East produces enough typewriters to serve this market.

Yesterday Edward Bryan, a worker at the factory since 1989, who made the last typewriter, said: “If people ever ask me, I can always say I made the last typewriter in the UK.”

He also said that in the past he had “tried and succeeded to make one with my eyes closed”. The company will continue to use the factory to run a recycling scheme for printer cartridges as well as to make other office equipment.

Phil Jones, head of Brother in the UK, said that the typewriter still held “a special place in the hearts” of members of the

public.

“Because of this, and the typewriter’s importance in the history of business communication, we felt that giving it a home at the Science Museum would be a fitting tribute,” he said.

The Science Museum’s assistant curator of technologies and engineering, Rachel Boon, said staff were excited to add the item “to our rich collection of typewriters” which numbers more than 200.

She added: “This object represents the end of typewriter manufacture in the UK, a technology which has developed over the last 130 years and has been important to so many lives. This model will enable us to tell the story of how technology has evolved in accordance with our communication needs.”

Mechanical typewriting

machines began to be developed in the late 1700s; however the first-known typewriter was invented in the US in 1830 by William Burt.

Typewriters did not become a commercial success until the 1870s when inventors Christopher Sholes – who also created the Qwerty keyboard – and

Carlos Glidden made a deal with the Remington company to mass produce their machines.

Yesterday Iain Pattison, the creator of the television comedy character Rab C Nesbit, who for many years resisted the lure of a personal computer, said that although he had used the

machines long after everyone else had logged on, he did not miss them.

He said: “The last typewriter I used is now in the People’s Palace in Glasgow. I wrote three or four series of Rab C Nesbit on that one. I used Tipp-Ex the way Vincent Van Gogh used paint. It dripped down the typewriter. I recently cleared out about 50 typewriter ribbons which I had stored up against my ruin.

“But now I am on to my fourth computer. Hopefully I will never go back to a typewriter. Think of the hours you spent waiting for Tipp-Ex to dry.

“Then again, maybe we should keep a manual typewriter by our side in case of the great internet freeze-up.”

 

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