Letterpress Stories

Part of our brief for the Letterpress Reimagined Project has been to share experiences and stories from those who have had careers in the printing trade. Often, we only get to hear about these experiences if we sit down and talk to someone, or if they come from a member of our family. We felt it was important that these kind of stories find a wider audience – that these skills and experiences are not lost in our increasingly fast-paced, hi-tech society.

Over the next few days, as we prepare for the Letterpress Reimagined concluding symposium, we’re going to be sharing some of those stories – a couple of these are from our trip to the Print Workshop at Amberley Museum, one comes from conversations held during the project exhibition, and today’s comes from someone who’s been an incredible help to the project as a whole.

Ken Burnley hails from the north-west, and has helped us behind the scenes with some massively helpful tips and guidance. This is his story:

Ken Burnley


Poem Page Collation

Today, we battled wind and storm to meet, to gather our printed poem pages, and to add some finishing touches to the rear page of the poem booklet.

This page is really important, as it not only lists all the wonderful volunteers involved in the project, but also gives thanks to those who have made it possible:




Symposium – Oct 29th!

Just a quick reminder that, if you’re looking to come along to our Letterpress Reimagined project symposium, on Oct 29th, you can book tickets here:


The event is from 1-3pm, and will include talks from Vicki Adams (Letterpress Reimagined), Dr Andrew Palmer (Canterbury Christ Church University) as well as from volunteers involved in the project.

Copies of the finished poem booklet will also be available!

Feel free to drop us a line if you have any questions about the event. You can email us at vicki@letterpressreimagined.com, or call the Sissinghurst Castle events office on 01580 710700.

Making the “Press”

That was a corny joke, forgive me.

We are very proud to have made some of the local Parish magazines for the Sissinghurst and Frittenden parishes, thanks to the excellent pennings of one of our volunteer team, John.

It’s all well and good doing a project like this, but I feel is important that the project reaches the local communities around it, rather than just staying within the four (or so) walls of one locality.

We’ve already had a couple of conversations from residents from these villages who have read the pieces and come along to see what Letterpress Reimagined is all about, and they might pop back for the Symposium on October 29th .

You can read John’s article in full, below.


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Letterpress Stories

Part of our intention in running the Letterpress Reimagined project, has been to capture, collate and share stories from people who have been involved in the print trade for any or all of their lives. We’re aware that this is a sector which has undergone massive change in the past thirty years, and we don’t want these stories to be lost.

We visited Amberley Museum a couple of weeks back, and stories from the volunteers there inspired and encouraged us.  As well as sharing these stories, we’re interested in others, from anyone with a connection to letterpress or similar printing.

This is where you come in! If you fall into this category, or someone in your family does, or did, we’d love to hear from you. The kind of stories we’re looking for include:

-What encouraged or caused you to get involved with letterpress printing in the first place?

How would you say the craft / business has changed over the last 30 years?

What role would you say letterpress, and methods of traditional printing have in contemporary society?

What’s your favourite story / memory or occasion in your career (or time as a hobby printer)?

What would you say has been the saddest moment in your career (or time as a hobby printer)?

What one bit of advice would you like to pass on to anyone just starting out?

-Anything else you’d like to share!

You don’t have to give your name, though you can if you want, and the stories will appear on this site.

We’d also be interested in any photos, drawings etc that you might want to contribute as well – perhaps a photo of you all smiling around a new press, or your first day as a compositor etc. Perhaps your log-book from your time as a printer’s apprentice. Anything like that, really!

Please don’t worry about it ‘sounding right’ or needing to format things in any way. Just scrambled thoughts, a couple of sentences, or sketchy memories – anything at all will be gratefully received!!

You can either comment below, or email me at vicki@letterpressreimagined.com

Please do also give us a shout if you have any thoughts or questions about the project as a whole!
Thanks in advance!


Project Log Entries

We spent some time at Sissinghurst Castle today, working on letterpress printing the inside front cover for the Sissinghurst poem booklet. Thanks to some excellent press-work from Carla and Ray, the one hundred prints were completed speedily and with enough time to stop and share with visitors to our open exhibition.

While the printing was going on, I spent some time photographing a few of the most recent entries in our exhibition log book. It looks like visitors to the exhibition have found it a positive experience. We’ve definitely had some amazing conversations – and heard some incredible stories – a few of which will be shared on this blog in the coming days.

For now, here are some of the log book entries:

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Letterpress Reimagined – Exhibition News

The open exhibition of our Letterpress Reimagined project is up and running, open every day until October 28th, from 12-4pm.


Visitors can spend time reading about the project – the hand typesetting, printing and proofing carried out by the volunteers, as well as seeing examples of the poem in progress.

The Minerva press used in the project is also in situe, and the volunteers manning the exhibition can offer a demonstration of the press in motion.

Towards the back of the exhibition room, three hand presses are set up, so visitors can have ago at letterpress printing themselves!