This month’s Eynsham News may be the last one printed locally, as our one remaining printer consolidates its operations. Jon Buckingham, Eynsham printer man and boy, arranged a tour before the presses move - a local reception centre will maintain a presence for customers.
Print and publishing is deeply rooted here, as readers of the Eynsham Record know. John Danter, son of an Eynsham weaver, was turning out Shakespeare folios in London at the end of the 16th century; Michael Sparke, a Puritan publisher, was selling books to the Bodleian Library in the 17th. Nineteenth century developments in printing, paper-making and transport enabled massive increases in output - Oscar Mellor’s hand press at Swinford in the 1950s represented an heroic but short-lived backlash - and by 2005 no fewer than 8 print firms appeared in the Eynsham Directory.
From early days in 1968 as Cotswold Press in Swan Street, then behind the big blue doors on Abbey Street / Church Street, Information Printing (as it was) expanded to Southfield Road in 1981 and steadily absorbed its neighbours - parts of James Burn, Britannia Print Finishers, Witney Press and most recently Blenheim Colour. Progress has a price, of course. Under pressure from foreign / internet competition, a wiro-binding team of 50 has shrunk to only two; one only hopes the rest found local jobs. Some formats (business cards, posters, display materials) are now produced elsewhere.
The leaner modern set-up is very impressive, however, producing academic, scientific and more popular work in great variety. A complex guide to clinical coding standards; papers from a foreign language conference; a gorgeous study of fixtures and fittings in period houses; a full-colour facsimile of a medieval musical manuscript - all this and more were in production on a “quiet” day last month.
Shorter runs and self-published work - from children’s tales to cookbooks - can be handled too, with a design arm in Cheltenham available if required. Though Jon had a cautionary tale of a (nameless) author with a print run of 2,000. Five years on, 200 have sold and the remainder, still on the premises, will at the least be liable for storage charges after the move.
Information Press was a BBOWT corporate member with Forestry Stewardship Council certification and continues taking environmental issues very seriously as Berforts Information Press. Recycling bins are everywhere - and noise from the huge compactor has been reduced as well.
The merger with Berforts in 2012 has clearly extended the range of services on offer, though at present a book printed in Eynsham must go to Stevenage for its hardcover and dust jacket, so streamlining is essential. Technical advances call for continuing response as well: the huge eight-colour offset litho Heidelberg press from Eynsham is heading off to join a brand new model which is several times faster and also cheaper to run.