Spotlight on print industry

Printer-friendly page
News release: 28 November 2017

The rich history of the printing industry in St Albans is to feature in an exhibition at the new Museum and Art Gallery.

Dangerfields print works, 1897
Researchers from St Albans Museums are now trying to contact people who worked in the once-thriving sector.

They want to hear about their experiences as they compile the story of the printing companies that once operated in the City.

The City’s coat of arms is a compelling illustration of the importance of printing to St Albans.

It features, on the right side, a drawing of John the Schoolmaster Printer holding an Ink-ball. He operated one of the country’s first printing presses from the Abbey Gateway from around 1479.

Among the printers that operated in the City was the Gibbs family.

They printed the first edition of The St Albans Times & Herts Advertiser from a hand-held press at the Clock Tower in 1855. It continued to be printed in the City up until the late 1960s, dropping the first part of its title.

The Salvation Army ran Campfield Press in St Albans from 1901 to 1991. For a time, it had its own halt on the rail line between St Albans and Hatfield, now the Alban Way. 

It printed the Army’s newspaper the War Cry as well as bibles and prayer books, employing 350 people at its peak. 

Another company, Eversheds, was based on the site of a new housing development, Gabriel Square, off Alma Road.

The firm moved there after their London factory was damaged during the blitz in World War Two. It continued printing until its closure in the late 1990s.

Eversheds also signed up to Labour Minister Ernest Bevin’s National Scheme for the Employment of Disabled Ex-Servicemen after the war.

Anyone who worked in the City’s print trade and has a story to tell is urged to contact Museum Curator Sarah Keeling at museum@stalbans.gov.uk.

St Albans City and District Council is converting the Town Hall into a new £7.75 million Museum and Art Gallery that will transform the District’s cultural life. It is due to open in May next year.

Councillor Annie Brewster, Portfolio Holder for Sports and Culture, said: “The print industry was vital to the prosperity and growth of St Albans.

“This project is a fantastic chance to celebrate that history and record the memories of residents who worked in that industry.

“I am sure there will be many people out there with vivid memories and mementoes of the print companies and I encourage them to contact the Museums Service.

“As we move towards the opening or our new Museum and Gallery, we are very keen to connect with our local history and get residents involved with our work.”

Picture: Printers at work at the Dangerfields works in 1897, off Alma Road. The company was taken over by Eversheds.

Councillors contact: 
Cllr Annie Brewster, Portfolio Holder for Sport and Culture for St Albans City and District Council. Email: cllr.a.brewster@stalbans.gov.uk; Tel: 01438 832255 
  
Contact for the media: 
John McJannet, Principal Communications Officer, St Albans City & District Council, Tel: 01727 296130, E-mail: john.mcjannet@stalbans.gov.uk

Note:
St Albans City and District Council's museums service runs Verulamium Museum, the medieval Clock Tower in the High Street, a field archaeology unit and associated excavations. The Museum of St Albans has now closed as part of the development to create a new Museum and Gallery in St Albans Town Hall. St Albans Museums’ social history collections comprise a wide range of objects relating to the development of St Albans over the centuries, from a market town to the modern city we see today. For more information, please visit www.stalbansmuseums.org.uk or call 01727 751810.