THE last Sunderland Echo to be printed in the city rolled off the presses today.
The Echo’s journalists and photographers will still be will still be working in the city but the paper will no longer be printed here from Monday after our parent company Johnston Press decided to move production out of the area.
The move brings an end to almost 140 years’ of newspaper production in Sunderland.
Printer Frank Nicholson joined the Echo in 1971, when it was still based in the city centre. He was just 17 and has been a permanent fixture in the press hall for a quarter of a century.
“I came into the machine room in 1987 and have basically been here ever since,” he said.
The end to printing in Sunderland is an emotional day for Frank, but it is the colleagues with whom he has worked for so long who will be the biggest miss.
“You would be hard pressed to find somewhere else that has got the same atmosphere as this,” he said. “You build up a personal, as well as a working relationship with people over the years.”
Stuart Birkett, managing director of Johnston Press’ Northeast Publishing Unit, said: “In many ways, the Echo has been unusual in retaining a local press on site at Sunderland for so long.
“But to remain competitive as a business, it is important we change with the times. Only three decades ago, our titles in the North East were printed on five different presses across the region. Now, new modern, efficient, high-capacity presses, coupled with changes to publishing portfolios, mean newspapers across the land are invariably printed on a much smaller number of larger presses.
“We’ve got a great team of people producing our papers and I know every one of them will join me in thanking our printers for their brilliant service over the years.”
Acting editor Richard Ord promised the Echo would still serve the community of Sunderland.
“While the stories that appear in the Echo will still be produced here in Sunderland, the loss of the press really is the end of an era,” he said
“We will still make the news here, but the presses, for many historical, human and emotional reasons, will be greatly missed.”