Original common presses in Britain

GB 17.1 Press first seen at Brecon was found near Crickhowell in 1953

In 2008 while on a visit to Brecon Museum and Art gallery I was surprised to find there a common press which was not recorded in the census published by Phillip Gaskell in 1970. Much of the survey work for his census was done much earlier between 1951 and 1953 so finding an unrecorded press suggested that it was perhaps time after more than fifty years for someone to look again at the situation. Gaskell’s survey was world- wide and beyond anything I could attempt but I could perhaps look again at the situation in the United Kingdom.  I put the idea to The Printing Historical Society who gave their approval and provided a grant to help with travel costs. Over a period of three years I visited and photographed what I believe, are all the original common presses still in existence here. Gaskell listed fifteen presses but three of these have been excluded from my survey. One had already disappeared in 1970, another was a one sixth scale model, and the third I have so far been unable to locate. Two new presses have come to light, the one at Brecon, now moved to the Collections Centre at Nantgarw, and one very incomplete one at Newark. Currently, there are now fourteen presses, but only one, that at the Bodleian Library, is operable. Several others have parts missing and a number are locked away in museum storerooms. I managed to photograph all but one and published what I could discover about each of them under the title ‘A new census of wooden presses in Great Britain’. It was published in the Journal of the Printing Historical Society in 2016 5. It is also available as a PDF on this site’s ‘Links and references’ page.




Next – Presses for ‘Outlander’