Penrith Remembers - 6

6th August, 2014

Penrith Remembers - 6

My great-grandfather, George Reed, Printer and Stationer, was a well known businessman in Penrith by the time the Great War of 1914-18 began. He had established a print shop in Langton Street in 1878 and moved operations to the old Presbyterian Chapel in Rowcliffe Lane, now owned and occupied by the Bewick Coffee House and Bistro, about the end of the nineteenth century. The Presbyterians, having moved up to Lowther Street, initially leased the premises to George Reed, who purchased the print works from the Trustees in 1920 for the princely sum of £400! From 1893, he also rented the shop at 46 King Street where he would trade in stationery and fancy goods and, in particular, as a keen photographer, he sold local postcards and guides printed by Reeds, using his own photographs. In 1904, he became only the second President of Penrith Chamber of Trade.

During the First World War years, despite losing men through conscription, trade seemed to continue fairly normally, as evidenced by some meticulously filed supplier invoices in my possession which date from 1914 to 1918.These show the purchase of accounting paper and calf bound account books from Edinburgh, fancy goods from Birmingham and maps, newspapers and periodicals from London. Maps of the Lake District sold for 6d each (old pence!), a box of a 1000 business envelopes sold for about 5 shillings (a quarter of the early 20th century pound) and 12 gross ‘Souffle Cases’ were bought wholesale for £1 1s or a guinea! Many goods were supplied in those days by train and, on the printing side of the business, a guillotine knife was reground for 11 shillings plus 11d carriage from Otley!

In refreshing contrast to the current multinational utility behemoths, power came from the Penrith Electric Supply Company Ltd. For the quarter ending 31.03.1914, George Reed had to pay the grand total of £2 3s 6d for the King Street shop and £2 3s 1d for the Rowcliffe Lane print works! When the opportunity arose in 1915, George Reed purchased the two shops at 46 & 47 King Street from the children of the then deceased James & Mary Anderson of Victoria Road, Penrith for £1350. After the war, 47 King Street was sold to Henri Bergamini, Italian Hairdresser in 1922 and it was later sold to the Robson family. Reed’s Ltd. traded in stationery and fancy goods at 46 King Street until 1998 and the listed building has been subsequently occupied by Lakeland OfficePoint and currently by Heaton Office Solutions.

Gordon M. Rigg Managing Director, Reed’s Ltd., Printers & Stationers 1976-2006
Reed’s Printers moved to Southend Road, Penrith in 1996 and are now owned by the Harrison & Hetherington Group and trading as H. & H. Reeds Printers 19.07.2014

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