Hot off the Press!
One of the key exhibits at Englesea Brook Museum is the 'Atlas' iron hand printing press, used by Hugh and James Bourne from 1823 to 1844. The Bourne brothers bought it for £373 8s 10d from Wood & Sharwood, 120 Aldersdgate Street, London, and had it transported to Staffordshire where they set it up in a barn at Bemersley Farm, three miles from Tunstall.
Here the first Primitive Methodist publishing house was established, known as the 'Book Room'. Parcels of magazines and books were taken in carts to the canal quays and shipped in barges to the various Circuits across the country.
In the Library we have some of the fascinating books and pamphlets produced on this press - including Hugh Bourne's collection of Family Receipts, which includes how to relieve a cow choked with a turnip, and how to provide a cheap, wholesoome dinner for 4d.
Having been used from 1844 to 1939 by local printers, the press fell into disrepair. It was brought to Englesea Brook Museum in 1993, when it was restored by Dr Nuttall and a team from the Lancashire and Cheshire Young Managing Printers Association.
In 2012, we are delighted that Hugh Bourne's printing press has become a working exhibit again, and demonstrations are available for groups and schools. We are grateful to volunteer Peter Branson, our new 'James Bourne' - who has brought the press to life again. We are now recruiting for Printers' 'apprentices'.
Schools visiting the Museum can now book for a printing activity as part of our Victorian programme. Children can see the printer at work, and have a go at their own printing using some of the original wooden printing blocks.