The printing press at Snowshill

Printing equipment in the Press Room at Cherryburn

One of the first things you may notice as you enter the second-hand bookshop is the exquisite printing press on display.

Snowshill is home to an ornate, traditional printing press which you can see in action on selected days.

Our team is on hand to help you find out more about the art of letterpress printing and take home a hand-printed souvenir.

More than 100 years old

A Model 3 Letterpress, made in 1898 in London, it was originally was operated by a treadle, but this is no longer in place. Now it is operated by hand.

Original designs by Snowshill founder Charles Wade have been made into printing blocks and mounted to type height, so that they can be used in the Letterpress.

Alongside these, there are some metal type and some other blocks - which are used to print a small selection of greetings cards and gift tags, available for sale in the second-hand bookshop.

Unique souvenirs

"The items that we produce are unique because they are handprinted," said Snowshill volunteer Sue Griffiths. "And they are not available elsewhere."

She added: "It is surprising how many of our visitors say that they have worked in the printing trade. For these people, seeing the printing press can be a trip down Memory Lane, with the scent of the linseed oil based printing ink and white spirit, a composing stick to handle and reminders of upper and lower case and to mind the p’s and q’s."

Age-old tradition

Sue continues: "Other people like to see how printing was done, in days gone by, slowly, laboriously and with inky fingers, before the days of the Internet and computers."

Only trained operators are permitted to run the printing press; this includes staff and volunteers at Snowshill. We will operate the press as often as we can, but it takes a lot to look after the press and conservation and cleaning tasks must also be undertaken regularly.

To check if the printing press is running on the day of your visit, please call 01386 852410.