1 PRINT IN THANET - COVER & BACK COVER & TEXT - FLIPBOOK v26 ZZZ - FAW - Flipbook - Page 17
The growth of the
FOR around two hundred years and continuing today, printing has made an
important contribution to the economy, life and times of the people
Only some 40 years before the first record of printing in one of its
towns, Thanet was an island surrounded by many different waters and
served only by a ferry. On Kent’s north coast, the Thames Estuary and the
bottom of the North Sea, overlooked by Margate. To the east is the far
eastern end of the English Channel and Broadstairs, with Ramsgate to the
south. To the west, are the floodplains of the River Wantsum, and a cluster of
villages from Birchington, St Nicholas at Wade, Sarre, Monkton and Minster.
These individual Isle of Thanet communities have always depended on the
impact and opportunities that came with these waters. Industries such as
fishing, boat building, agriculture, trade, defence, and more recently tourism
and culture are celebrated. However, missing from this picture is an industry
which not only facilitated and supported many of the others, but also
“I had to take an exam prior to working there to qualify for a job there –
all printers in the area
comprised a highly skilled and largely uncelebrated workforce.
According to local archive records there is evidence of printing activity
had to take exams in that
from about 200 years ago in Thanet. The first recorded publication was
period to get in there.”
printed in 1795 by William Epps (‘The Whim - A Comedy in 3 Acts’). [6.]
“I had an interview for
the job and was asked
what I would like to do
in printing and I said I
would like to be a comp.
After a lot of discussion, I
was told I would start
in the machine room the
Located in Duke Street, Margate, this printer was joined a year later by
another printer using the first registration of the name The Thanet Press.
These first two printing businesses were followed by at least one hundred
more over time (Thanet print businesses past and present see page 16). The
busiest time for the island’s printing industry was the late nineteenth into the
late twentieth century.
In the 1920s the island became a centre for an important cluster of
innovative light industries. These were based mainly on former farmland
around Westwood, between Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate. Included
in this cluster was a concentration of printing companies employing a skilled
workforce in secure and well-paid jobs in print. This workforce was mostly
made up of men. Skills training started with long and staged apprenticeships
which led to jobs such as compositors, binders, finishers, machine
operators, printers and proofreaders. This highly skilled workforce included
some of the best printers in the whole of the country.
This light industry cluster continued to develop and was recognised
as innovative and worthy of assistance by the government after WWII.
Included in the cluster were household names such as toy manufacturers,