Printing firm closes after 140 years

A BOSS at an Ipswich printing company told of his sadness today as the firm came to the end of its run after more than 140 years of trading.

Simon Tomlinson

A BOSS at an Ipswich printing company told of his sadness today as the firm came to the end of its run after more than 140 years of trading.

Calver Press has been forced into voluntary liquidation with the loss of six jobs due to the rise of modern technology.

The close-knit staff, most of whom have worked at the Friars Street business for 20 or 30 years, now face an uncertain future as they search for alternative employment.

Owner Keith Gostling, who started at the company in 1960, said: “I am quite sad at the demise of the print industry. Everyone here is very cheesed off.

“I had to sign the closure notice and tell people they were being made redundant and I am not very happy about it.”

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The company, which was founded in 1865, printed a wide range of products from leaflets and letters to calendars and golf club rule books.

But it has suffered from a severe drop in the volume of its orders as businesses have found ways of producing the products themselves.

Mr Gostling, 64, said: “Very simply modern offices and technology completely eliminates the demand for print. In the space of five years or so people have started doing it on their computer.

“And now this year, with the apparent recession, people are seeing how they can save money and I can't say I blame them.”

The company will also be regretfully cutting links with long-term customer The Ipswich Building Society, which in one form or another has been a client with them during three different centuries.

Calver Press ceased trading on Friday, but staff will be finishing outstanding jobs and tying up loose ends until August 29.

Are you sad to see the demise of Calver Press? Write to Your Letters, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to

CALVER Press was founded in 1865 when Mr Calver converted his house in Friars Street into a print room - and it has remained there ever since.

The business was passed down to his son, William, before being handed over to Douglas and Gloria Green, who ran it when current owner Keith Gostling started there in 1960.

Mr Gostling, who joined as a trainee manager, fondly remembers the pre-digital era when printing used the letterpress system.

Letterpress printing involves compositing metal slugs of words and images either by hand or with a linotype machine before being covered in ink and transferred on to paper.

It was labour intensive and staff levels at Calver Press were far higher, peaking at 24 in 1970.

Mr Gostling recalled a lot of camaraderie when colleagues would take long lunches to play football against other businesses.

He said: “It was hard work but we had tremendous fun. We would play tricks on each other, like putting a blob of ink on the underside of a door handle so someone would get ink all over their hands.”