It is good to have a new ice cream parlour in Abingdon. Igloo Deserts and YourBurger share the same premises on Bath Street. The Ice Cream parlour is new this summer. YourBurger has been there for longer.
It is over the road from Masons who have been busy selling the components for DIY face coverings this summer.
A charity shop in Wantage (Abingdon’s closest neighbour town in the Vale of White Horse) has taken face covering to a new level.
The Nursery Shop is open and full of colourful stock. The big sale earlier in the year was not a closing down sale, as I reported at the time, but the sale of an ongoing business to a new owner.
Their clothing is ethically made from organic sustainable sources. There is also an online Nursery Shop.
I was taking some picture the other day when a gentleman told me about Burgess …
Burgesses were in Stert Street when I started in 1949. I started work at £1 10s a week. £1 for my mum and 10s for me. All the presses were hand-fed back then…. Abbey Press was by the side of it in Stert Street. Then Burgesses moved to up near Waitrose… I was a printer all my life. Just before I retired the last press they bought cost 2.4 million, a Heidelberger machine. It did the lot, and all automatic – put the colours on the inside and the varnish outside, all in one pass. The last picture we printed was a big picture of the sighting of the Bismarck. I got a picture framed of that for my retirement.
Burgess and Sons, the printer, were at 55 Stert Street in the 1930s. At that time they did a lot of work for HMSO, printing patents.
Next door, number 57 was vacant for some time. 57 had been the Abingdon Kinema. Burgess and Sons had plans to expand into number 57. But before they could get everything agreed The Abbey Press (John Hooke Ltd) bought 57, and so the two printers were neighbours for the first time.
That was a blessing in disguise as a larger premises on Station Road, by the old coal yard, became available. Most of the building was owned by William Press and Son, a big engineering company. They took part in the big conversion from coal gas to North Sea natural gas in the 1970s, when 20 million appliances were altered.
Burgesses took over some of the building. Then when William Press and Son moved out, Burgesses took over the lot. It was more than they needed but gave room for expansion. Some parts of the site were let, one part to The Abbey Press – and so the printers became neighbours for a second time.
The twenty first century arrived and Burgesses had been taken over by a company outside Abingdon who had exciting plans. The shocking news came in June 2000 that the 195 staff of Burgess were to loose their jobs. Europe’s largest independent greetings card printer, was to close. Their parent company, Bezier, decided that the market for greeting cards was changing, and their plan to make Abingdon the center for making greeting cards was no longer viable.
The Abbey Press expanded and carried on both on the old Station Road site and in Nuffield Way. The old Station Road site became the Thames View housing development so they moved all their operations to Nuffield Way. The Abbey Press ceased trading in April 2013.
I find it amazing, in my own lifetime, to have seen factories and institutions, that I thought would last forever, demolished, just leaving individuals’ memories. I don’t know if anybody has written a history of John Hooke Ltd and The Abbey Press. Leslie E. Stopps compiled A Short History – Burgess & Son (Abingdon) Ltd in 1980, and I got a copy second hand after listening to the man who was a printer all his life. It has lots of pictures of people and printing presses.
Stert Street, Abingdon, at lunchtime today.
Stert Street, Abingdon about the turn of the century – 1900.
At number 55 was Ye Olde Printinge Workes. At the far end was W. H. Hooke. Both were printers.
W. H. Hooke is now Robert Gatward Jewellers.
So what did happen to Ye Olde Printinge Workes and W. H. Hooke. How did they become neighbours during the twentieth century, not once, but twice, and what has happened to them since the year 2000.
Find out in tomorrow’s Abingdon Blog installment of ‘Printing Neighbours.’
Michael says the manager of the Pizza Express restaurant in Stert Street has just had the vegetation in the adjoining alley cleared up. Michael says It was awful.
Pizza Express reopened the Abingdon branch on August 6th with a physically distanced layout inside, and hand sanitisers.