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.
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.