1888 Wharfedale Press – Project Update

During the past weekend, tentative attempts were made to bring the largest printing press in our collection back into production for book and poster work. Our Wharfedale cylinder press was manufactured in 1888 by W. Dawson & Sons in Otley, West Yorkshire, and whilst it is one of the smaller machines of its type, it still weighs well in excess of two tonnes!

I have been kindly (and ably) assisted by Len Friend of the Crescent Card Company (Tiptree) and Julius Stafford-Baker of The Happy Dragons’ Press (Toppesfield) who both have wealth of experience in the printing trade and have operated Wharfedale’s and similar cylinder presses commercially.

I acquired this rare press from David Esslemont’s Solmentes Press – then located in Newtown, mid-Wales – back in May 2004 and until recently the press had to be placed in storage. David produced many fine books on this press, before he relocated to America in the Summer of 2004. Now that we we have been able to install the press in our workshop, work has started to bring it back to life and it is hoped that we will be able to complete a first print run before the end of this year.

The above photograph shows David Esslemont bidding a fond farewell to his Wharfedale press, in May 2004.

The above photograph shows David Esslemont bidding a fond farewell to his Wharfedale press, in May 2004.

An engraving of an early type Wharfedale press that is very similar to our press, with the exception of the spoked flywheel.

An engraving of an early type Wharfedale press that is very similar to our press, with the exception of the spoked flywheel.

Wharfedale Press detail

More information about The Wharfedale Printing Press and how it helped to revolutionise the printing industry, back in the mid-19th century, can be found on the Otley Museum website and on the excellent British Letterpress site.

3 Comments

  1. Roger Pryse
    Posted April 25, 2009 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    I have in front of me at this moment a 2-colour double crown poster printed by my father in 1925 on a double-demy version of the press that you are working on

  2. Martin Smith
    Posted August 24, 2011 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

    I was drawn to your site via Google after talking this evening reminissing abot Letterpress machines with an ex workmate I have found among my old books a Wharfedale machine manual in excellent condition Of which I aim to give to the industrial museun in Bradford on my next visit to Yorkshire later this year .Happy times as a “Ink and Iron “Printer

  3. Vaughan George
    Posted November 4, 2012 at 11:15 pm | Permalink

    Looking at this machine evokes memories of when I was an Apprentice (a proper one!)in 1966. The company had a Wharfdale Double-Demy.I remember on friday afternoons, Ernie who operated it and who was also the FOC, would wander over to me and say “I need you in tomorrow morning to help me out”. I used to dread it because after three hours sat at the delivery end of the machine watching for spacers coming up, I then had to wash the damn thing up. Happy Days

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  1. [...] information about this fine printing press and the ongoing project to restore it can be found here. This entry was written by Justin Knopp, posted on January 27, 2009 at 8:14 pm, filed under [...]

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