Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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William Clowes and Sons

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Printers and publishers of Duke Street, Stamford Street, London.

1803 William Clowes (1779-1847) founded the printing firm which became William Clowes Ltd. in London.

1823 Clowes installed a steam-powered printing press designed by Cowper and Applegarth. His factory adjoined the palace of Britain's wealthiest man, the Duke of Northumberland, who successfully instituted a court action for noise and pollution abatement.

1827 the firm took over Augustus Applegarth's premises in Duke Street, Blackfriars, a site which became the largest printing works in the world, printing a wide variety of works and employing over 500 workers directly. The development of powered presses by Clowes is credited with increasing levels of accuracy as well as speed of output, making printed material cheaper and more accessible. He was also an innovator in terms of working practices and in 1820 became one of the first employers to start a benevolent fund for his workforce.

1839 The firm was renamed William Clowes and Sons

By 1843 it was one of the largest printing companies in the world: it operated 24 presses and had its own type and stereotype foundries, 2500 tonnes of stereotyped plates, and a collection of 80,000 woodcuts.

1847 Clowes died, and three of his sons, William Clowes the younger (1807–1883), Winchester, and George, took over running the company.

1851 The company secured a large contract to print half a million catalogues for the 1851 Great Exhibition. The project involved the use of 50 tonnes of type, 30,000 reams of paper and three tonnes of ink.

1873 Independent of the main firm, William Clowes the younger's son, William Archibald Clowes (1843–1904), and his nephew, William Charles Knight Clowes (1838–1917), entered a partnership with William Moore, who operated the Caxton Press in Beccles, Suffolk. Although Moore suddenly disappeared with all the money, leaving considerable debts, the firm survived and was re-established as Clowes and Clowes. The firm grew from operating four to 15 presses in just three years. By 1876 was valued at over £20,000 and had fifteen power printing presses.

1880 Clowes and Clowes merged with William Clowes and Sons to form William Clowes Ltd.

1890 The company was registered on 26 February, to acquire the business of printers and publishers carried on by the firm of the same name, and by Clowes and Clowes.

1907 The business of Gilbert and Rivington was acquired. [1]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Stock Exchange Year Book 1908
  • Wikipedia