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Little Ouse Headwaters Project Visit

We were approached by some members of the Little Ouse Headwaters Project connected with the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts based at the U.E.A. in Norwich. They enquired whether it would be possible for a group from the organisation to come down to the printing works one Saturday to produce letterpress printing for sale and display materials for use at their Open Days at various village halls around the vicinity of the Ouse headwaters.

John and Richard welcomed eleven people to “The Wilderness” early one sunny autumnal Saturday morning. Following a brief Health and Safety talk and a demonstration of Hand Compositing the visitors were allowed to search through our varied cases of metal and wooden type, make their choices and report back to John or Richard who would advise them on their task ahead, before starting preparation for their personal printing. Continue reading

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How letterpress printing has changed

When I started my apprenticeship in 1971 at City College Print Department, George Street, Norwich adjoining the Art School, letterpress printing was on the wain.

The curriculum for printing apprentices was wide and varied. I studied alongside apprentices from well known local large printing companies including Jarrolds, Clays, Cox and Wyman and Mansfields. Many of these companies had offset litho well established as the major part of their printing process. Film typesetting was also en-vogue. To me, from a small letterpress company in Diss, this was a different world.

Having started my career as a Saturday boy  working for my uncle and grandfather, I learnt the basics of letterpress printing and case layout by being given the job of cleaning and distributing poster type as the typefaces were larger and easier to see and handle.  By 1971 the company had purchased a Linotype hot metal machine for casting lines of 8pt text for fixture cards and draw tickets, greatly reducing the time spent standing in front of a typecase.

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