1 PRINT IN THANET - COVER & BACK COVER & TEXT - FLIPBOOK v26 ZZZ - FAW - Flipbook - Page 23
customers, the various owners and the Thanet based workforce which it
trained and employed.
The story starts in 1869 with the establishment of a drapery business
‘Smeed’s’, located on the corner of High Street and Queen Street, Margate.
In 1887 Frederick J Bobby, who had been running a small store in Bedford,
moved to Margate and took over Smeed's with his wife Jessie. With business
booming, FJ Bobby’s, acquired more nearby shops. By 1900, FJ Bobby
had established a furniture factory just round the corner in Princes Street.
In 1907 Robinson & Co, a stationery shop at 4 Queen Street, and Denne’s
print works in Well-Close Square were also bought. Print was now part of
the FJ Bobby empire. The furniture factory, which had occupied a single
building, expanded around the same time with larger furniture workshops
and a display showroom in 1908. At this time printing and the manufacture
Newspaper Thanet Advertiser
classified advertisement 1915
of furniture required large amounts of space and as both businesses
expanded, further space became necessary.
In 1909, Bobby & Co issued £100,000 of shares in a business which
now included stores in Margate, Folkestone and Leamington Spa, as well as
factories and workshops in Margate. These included workshops and stables
in Princes Street; shops, stores and garages in Union Crescent (which
runs parallel to Princes Street), and their print works in Well-Close Square.
The print works, “recently been removed to larger premises and modern
machinery added to the plant”, was producing print for Bobby & Co stores,
and “for customers in London and across the country”. At this time the
company employed 370 staff. The money raised by the sale of the shares,
meant Bobby could demolish the old Smeed’s building, and the other shops
he had acquired, to build Margate’s first department store, (later to become
part of Debenhams, and would trade until 1972).
Further expansion of Bobby & Co followed and in 1913, the Bobby’s
printworks moved to a new, purpose-built factory in Union Crescent. A
considerable investment at the time, the Crescent Printing Works may be
one of the finest examples of a purpose-built print works in the UK. The
building includes fine architectural details and features large windows,