LOCAL people will no doubt be familiar with the long tradition of printing in Worcester. Not only does the city claim the World’s oldest newspaper  – Berrow’s Worcester Journal, but over the years has been home to many long-running printing establishments.

Last week I was contacted by John Reynolds, a former printing compositor, who painted a fascinating picture of the industry in Worcester, during the later 1950s.

John’s introduction to the printing trade began in 1956, when as a very young man, his father took him to an interview at Street’s Printing Ltd in Sidbury.

Worcester News:

Ebenezer Baylis, Trinity Street in 1951

Bertram Frederick Valentine Street (known as Val) ran the establishment and despite John informing him that spelling was his worst subject, he was surprise to find he was given the job! 

John described what he found was rather tedious work, typesetting, setting all the individual lead letters into printing blocks by hand.

He was relieved to be given the job of book binder within six months of starting, and would travel in from Malvern by train every day. Street’s printers was based over four floors – he worked on the top floor, but the cutting machine was based on the bottom floor, so he kept fit running up and down stairs all day.

Worcester News:

Pump Street Printing Works in 1951

John was probably one of the last people in the country to use an antiquated ‘pen ruling machine’, which painstakingly applied lines on to paper, for cash books and the like. Processes were much more laborious in those days, and Streets employed at least 18 people for work that would today need no more than two.

He eventually moved on to companies in Shirley and Instant Print in Friar Street, before running his own business for 27 years.

Some of the other printing companies that operated in Worcester during the late 1950s were also recalled by Mr Reynolds and may be familiar to readers.

Worcester News:

The Littlebury Press was based at The Commandery until the 1970s

They included Ebenezer Baylis (Trinity Street and later London Road), Cheshire’s in Lowesmoor, the Barneshall Press in Bath Road, Littlebury’s at the Commandery, Baylis Lewis in New Street, Evening News and Times in Trinity Street and Landers in Angel Street.  Another local printer, Albert Grundy (possibly based in Lowesmoor) was well-known in cricketing circles.

Worcester Life Stories is a collaborative project bringing local people together through shared stories of the City of Worcester. It is co-led by Dr Natasha Lord, Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust and Sheena Payne-Lunn, Worcester City Council and funded thanks to National Lottery players.

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