Suppliers of high-quality printing for 66 years
Ok, so our first printing press didn't look quite like the one pictured above but it wasn't far off! St Andrew’s Press was established in 1952 and was primarily engaged in printing for the Cathedral of St Andrew in Wells, from which the company name was established.
Our company was founded in the front room of Arthur Wood's house on the historic Vicars Close. We have grown somewhat since and now work out of an industrial unit at St Andrews Park on the edge of Wells city centre, producing high-quality printed materials for companies all over the South West and beyond.
1952 - 2018 : Our History
The story of St Andrews Press began in 1950 when Arthur Wood moved to Wells from London, with his wife Dulcie and two sons Colin and Peter. Arthur had been working for many years as a Master Printer for The Times newspaper. Both he and Dulcie shared a love of music and met whilst singing in the Fleet Street Choir. It was this passion for singing that led Arthur to leave London and take the position of Tenor Vicar Choral (a singing layman) in Wells Cathedral Choir.
In those days, his job at the Cathedral required Arthur to sing both a morning and evening service daily and so he was only able to take part-time work at Clare, Son & Co., the local printing company. In 1952, in order to provide further income for his expanding family, Arthur finally decided to set up his own small printing press (named after the patron saint of Wells Cathedral) in a back room of his home in Vicars' Close adjoining the Cathedral.
With a bench-top 'Adana' printing press, and not a great deal of type, business grew surprisingly rapidly. The firm was very much a family affair with his wife Dulcie, and his father, Albert (a retired bookbinder), helping when possible.
Being a Master Printer, Arthur soon gained a reputation for his skill in producing top quality printing from what were very limited resources. With the work increasing, Arthur soon realised that larger premises were needed and moved the print equipment to a loft above the old stables in the car park of The Fountain Inn in Wells. Access for customers was via a ladder! Printing was produced on a leg-powered Cropper printing press and type was set by hand from cases, one letter at a time.
In 1956, Arthur moved the company for a second time, into a former carpenters' workshop at 43 North Road, which he rented from a gentleman named Arthur Dell. In September 1957, he took on his first apprentice, Andrew Linham.
In the late 1950s and early 1960s business continued to grow and a 10 x 15 Heidelberg Automatic Platen Press was installed at the new premises. It wasn't long before more staff were required and so two further apprentices, Ivor Ford and Ken Hopkins, joined the firm. Arthur also purchased a Linotype Hot Metal Typesetting machine in the late 1960s.
In January 1959, St Andrews Press began printing the Diocesan News magazine with a monthly print run of 21,000 copies. On the strength of this regular work two Heidelberg Letterpress Platen Printing Presses were purchased.
In 1969, Tim, Arthur's third son, and another apprentice, Mark Fisher, joined directly after leaving Wells Secondary School. Tim served his 5-year apprenticeship and in 1974 left for a period of time to gain experience in other areas of the printing trade in the UK as well as spending a year in New Zealand. Mark would rise through the ranks to become Production Director and Company Secretary, eventually retiring in December 2013. In 1976, Mike Kent joined the team full-time, having worked part-time previously. Mike has stayed loyal to the company and is now Production Manager.
As the years moved on investment was made in new technology. Hot metal type was gradually being replaced by phototypesetting machines that set the typed text straight onto photo paper. With all the new technology the staff continued to grow with Sally Masters joining as the Xerox operator in 1978 and Steve Collins starting as an apprentice in 1987; both are still with us today as Copy Shop Manager and Sales Executive respectively.
Shortly before Arthur retired he decided to take a huge step into the unknown by leasing a large high-volume photocopier. This was the Xerox 9200 which was revolutionary for its time, providing high-quality black and white photocopying at great speed with the ability to collate the sheets automatically into sets! Arthur finally handed over the reins to his son, Tim but continued to be available to offer advice and an extra pair of steady hands when needed. His dedication over the years was instilled into those who worked with him and is still reflected in the high standard of work that is produced today from St Andrews Press.
As business continued to grow, Tim took the decision to move to the current premises at the small industrial estate at St Andrews Park with two litho presses - a Komori 426 4-colour and a Man Roland 202 B2 2-colour - as well as the various copiers and repro kit. After leaving the North Road site vacant, it was developed into housing and named Wood Acre after the Wood family.
Two brand-new Ricoh digital presses were installed in 2015, one which is a state-of-the-art 5-colour press that enables digital printing in white, clear and fluorescent inks, the first press of its kind in the south-west.
Having safely steering the company for over 40 years, Managing Director Tim Wood sadly passed away in January 2017 after a short illness. Tim's attention to detail, customer service and a determination to meet customers' needs, no matter how complicated, trivial or different, all contributed to the St Andrews Press success story. It is a legacy that continues to this day and customers and staff alike were delighted when Tim's son, Tom stepped up to take the helm. Tom had cut his teeth at the Press in his late teens before going on to a profession in IT Management and was very happy to return to continue to run the family firm. And in a nice twist of fate, Iain MacLeod-Jones, our Design Manager, is a Tenor Vicar Choral in Wells Cathedral Choir and lives in Arthur Wood's former house on Vicars' Close where it all began!
With well over 100 years' experience in print under our collective belts, the current staff of St Andrews Press continue the great tradition of quality design and print, customer service, and attention to detail for our customers old and new.