The Chris Pryor Printing shop

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Chris Pryor was a former Maths teacher who has left a wonderful legacy in the Printing Shop named after him at the Museum. He only ever had one teaching position at Aranui High School beginning there in 1965. The High School had a letterpress platten give to them by the Akaroa Mail in 1964 and it had been used for printing school dance tickets and similar jobs before the days of photocopiers. Chris began his involvement in the printing department at the school in 1973 and he spent many nights back at school learning how to get the old machine going and printing to his high standards.
Once he had it up and running, Chris and his team extended the use of the press to include reports and newsletters and he ended up teaching printing as a sixth form liberal studies subject and at an after school club on Saturdays and at weekends.
He would seek out students he thought would enjoy the hands-on nature of printing and keeping old equipment running and who perhaps would not be so successful academically in the secondary school system.
To increase the printing resources at the school, Chris began calling in on printing firms around Christchurch, seeking any old equipment that would be suitable and that firms would be prepared to donate to a good cause.
In this way, he was able to gather up quite a collection of old items relating to the Printing business which were keenly used by his students. Many items he collected while at Aranui High are now on display in the Printing Shop.
In return, through developing this relationship with printing businesses in Christchurch, Chris was able to supply firms with apprentices from his 'printing club'. When asked later in life what he was most proud of in life, his answer was 'the students we got into the printing trade from our classes'. Firms knew that any student recommended by Chris would be 'up to the mark'. He only recommended those he knew would be good workers and suitable for the job.


His involvement in the Museum came about in the early 1980s when the Christchurch Star newspaper got rid of its old printing equipment. A 1922 Mergenthaler Linotype Model B was donated to the Museum and Chris bought a later model for the Aranui High School Print Club where it was used by students until 1984, eventually also ending up in the Museum in 1995.
Chris was asked by Murray Thacker to help out when he couldn't get anyone to demonstrate the Linotype and other gear on Waitangi Days and other special occasions. Like so many others, once introduced to the Museum he was hooked and made several trips every year, especially getting the printing gear up and running for special occasions.
Chris had had a previous connection with Okains Bay as as a youngster, when with his family and brother John, they would come to camp on the Currie farm for holidays in the summer.
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Originally the printing equipment was housed in the Colonial Hall, but when Chris had more printing equipment to bring to the Museum than it could hold, he made the suggestion that if some of the items that HE thought were of lesser importance were removed, there would be more room for his printing equipment. The suggestion was semi-jokingly made in return that it would be nice if a benefactor could be found to provide a dedicated building for the printing equipment!
After some thought, Chris took up the challenge and provided a very significant amount to enable the Chris Pryor Printing Shop to be constructed, which was officially opened on Waitangi Day 2005.
Chris always took a lot of interest in any visitors to the Printing Shop on Waitangi Days when it was in full swing and was always keen to know where they came from and chew the fat. Despite having to cope with a major health issue in the latter part of his life, his great strength and determination to carry on a normal life was clearly evident as was his generous spirit that was a feature of all of his life.
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The Printing Shop houses a large range of printing and related equipment which is well worth coming to see. The shop comes alive on Waitangi Day when special items made in the shop are available for purchase by visitors. It is a tremendous legacy to remember this wonderful benefactor to the Museum.


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Treat the machine as you would a best friend. Be careful not to abuse it in any way, and take good care of it at all times. By doing so, you will save yourself lots of trouble, and your employer lots of money.
Remember, it is a perfect machine for the purpose designed, and if it doesn't 'work' right it is your fault. It you are working at some part and can't get it just right all at once and you lose your temper, don't hit the machine with the tool you are using, but throw the tool across the room, and as you walk after it, you will have time to reflect that that didn't fix the machine, and can congratulate yourself that it didn't injure or mar it, either.

Sign found in the Chris Pryor Printing Shop


Christopher Charles Pryor - 3 Aug 1935 - 21 Nov 2010
Many thanks to Chris' good friend Mr Graham Claughton for help in putting this information together.