Home News DFA 145 years: Tradition of the wetstone

DFA 145 years: Tradition of the wetstone

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The DFA was one of the last newspapers in the country to continue with an annual ‘wetstone’, a traditional printers’ function where all members of staff would gather in the hallowed works department to drink together and celebrate either the end of the year or other momentous events in the life of the newspaper.

THE NEWSPAPER industry is well known for its traditions, traditions that bring together staff and often even competitors. It has always been an industry focused on respect and ethics.

‘In the good old days’ . . . as they say, the newspaper pages were cast in lead columns and then packed on a flat stone, packed together to make up the page. The flat stone was later replaced by a flat steel plate. However, technology overtook the flat stone and flat steel plate. But the tradition of wetting the stone remained at the DFA until we relocated to our new offices at the North Cape Mall. The steel plate was simply too heavy to move.

In this historic picture taken more than 25 years ago, members of the DFA staff, pensioners and executives from the Johannesburg head office pose next to ‘Albert’, the Albert Roff press which served the DFA from 1985 when the Friend closed until the end of 1999, when it was dismantled and shipped to Johannesburg.

The DFA was one of the last newspapers in the country to continue with an annual ‘wetstone’, a traditional printers’ function where all members of staff would gather in the hallowed works department to drink together and celebrate either the end of the year or other momentous events in the life of the newspaper.

It was tradition for the editor to open the first beer and pour it over the stone. And maybe it is a good thing the tradition has ended . . . we do not want to pour a beer over a computer keyboard.

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