Saturday 27th January, Oldham Baptist Church, was the final get-together for volunteers who, for the past 47 years have produced The Oldham Star. Oldham Rotary Club was represented by President Elect Derek and Club Secretary Alan. This event was just one of the many outcomes brought about by the closure of The Oldham Evening Chronicle, the main and only news source of Oldham Talking Newspaper Association.
Way back in 1977 when the first edition was produced, journalists from that papers Union Street Offices edited the week's local news and produced the script. This was picked up around 17.00hrs by a volunteer for that weeks recording. The first twenty editions were produced at Pennine Sound Studios - 225 Ripponden Road - by studio manager John Needham. The master cassette was duplicated each Sunday Morning at Oldham Council's Education Department Offices, Middleton Road, the delivered to Hamilton Street sorting Office. The duplicating machine worked on a one-to-one basis taking five minutes per C60 cassette, with an initial run of 25.
The finished recording was posted out in special yellow plastic wallet's under The Royal Mail's scheme covering 'ArtIcles for the Blind.' This means that no stamp is required. Listeners post back the cassette when they are finished with them.
The Oldham Star was available who cannot read a newspaper as a consequence of a visual impairment or some other disability which prevents them from reading unaided.
After edition twenty five the studio base became to busy toO accommodate The Star's needs, evenings being the peak studio time amongst recording artists. Recording and production was relocated to the front room of Bob Bambllete's house on Windsor Road. The circulation had now reached 100+ per week, with a waiting list of around 20 more the education department's machine could no longer cope.
A fund raising effort, for £1,150, to purchase two dupicating machines was launched. The new machines would produce five copies each in under two minutes. Again the Oldham Chronicle came to the rescue, they donated all the profits from that year's Hlll Stores Press Ball.
Around this tme a monthly magazine 'Owdum Edge' was introduced, featuring actors from the Oldham Repertory Company. Intruduce by Councillor Ray Whiehead amongst the regular readers were Sheila Price, John Jardine, Anne Krirkbride and on a least two occasions Jean Alexander.
When weekly circulation reached 350, additional copying machines were required, funding was available but not enough space in Bob's front room to store them. Production was now a slick operation, with editors on a four week rota, with their own team of readers, producerand team of copiers
Recording started each Friday evening at 19.00hrs followed by cassette copying at 21.00hrs. Finished recordings must be delivered to the G.P.O sorting office no later than 23.00hrs. This guarantied necx day delivery, not just in Oldham but anywhere on mainland Great Britain. Saturday's mail coincided with the publication date of The Weekly Chonicle.
The Oldham Spastic Society, also based on Windsor Road, offered rent free accommodation. Within their rear garden they had an under used heated wooden building, occupied each day by a local play group that finished at 17.00hrs. Eventually that building was demmed unsuitable for children, it had to be closed and eventually demilished.
Westfield old people's home on Grange Avenue, owned and run by Oldham's Social Services had an unused cellar; it was warm, private and secure. In addrition many of the volunteers were sure it also had its own residential ghost!
The next enforced move was into a building on Union Street, again Oldham Council owned, it was damp, up 2 flights of stairs, cold but secure. It was also condemned. The Social Services Department had inherited an old Doctor's surgery on Middleton Road, Chadderton, the bottom floor housed a taxi firm with all upper rooms vacant and rent free, but not secure.
Weekly circulation peaked at 520 copies and a final move of studio to the Falcon Centre.
The Rotary Club of Oldham first got involved in 1964, that year's President was part of the team that first set up Oldham's Talking Newspaper, they have reported for copying duties every four weeks.
At the end of this final meeting the acominated funds were distributed amongs various local and nation charities for the visualy handicapped, with a major donation to Guide Dogs Association, this will fund the training of a puppy to be called Star.
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