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A Visit to Reprohouse.

4th June 2014

On Wednesday 4th June seven members of the Essex branch were invited to the extensive and impressive premises of Reprohouse, Drakes Lane Industrial Estate, Boreham, Chelmsford, Essex, CM3 3BE

This visit was organised by our Chairman, Len Friend. We were warmly greeted by Peter Castle, the Manager of Reprohouse, who conducted us around the extensive and ultra modern premises. Originally founded about 12 years ago, the company had started life in a barn in the little village of Pleshey in Essex, but had expanded to the current large scale commercial premises employing a staff of eight people. To a died-in-the-wool amateur letterpress printer it was something of a culture shock to see the high tech machines in full swing, and I marvelled at the speed and superb finish of the work being printed. The Océ presses of the largest size available were not an investment for the faint hearted, starting as they did from about £100,000 per machine. They had an estimated life of about ten years before being made commercially redundant.
The size of the images being reproduced was the most impressive aspect of the production. The multi tasking of the presses was also quite something to see. They could fold, trim, and encapsulate in one production run. I wondered at what stage of the colour printing industry had tins of ink suddenly become wax beads in the process colours. Two metre wide encapsulation was possible and the length of the image could be as long as you wished. All the wide format printers were roll fed.  A lot of the turnover of the business is printing planning application plans for large scale building projects. The B.P.S. stand at the IPEX exhibition this year had benefitted by having Ron Rookes’ art work for the panels printed by Reprohouse, and what a professional image that presented to the commercial print world.

Our group, consisting of Len and Sandra Friend, Ron and Margaret Rookes, Chris and Jenny Brinson and Ken Wright, were given tea and coffee with biscuits by Peter Castle as he told us enthusiastically about running a modern printing business. I was impressed at the way he cared for his staff, and by the cleanliness and pleasant surroundings of the print works, with comfortable places to sit for the workers’ breaks. Outside was a small but immaculate garden, and on the inside even personalised wallpaper produced by the firm. A really happy place to work, and populated by a contented workforce, it was in short the perfect set-up.
I had expected that in a commercial printing works that there would be a high noise level, but again I was surprised by the muted notes of the presses as they gently swished through the work load. Altogether it appeared to be a very pleasant place to work. Peter took time to explain about the green credentials of the ultra high-tech machines which surrounded us. They were all controlled from one small suite of computers by one man. One of the many benefits of belonging to the B.P.S. is that it takes you to places you would not normally go, and opens doors to other worlds. It was a privilege to be able to visit Reprohouse and to just briefly marvel at the state of the art printing technology which now exists.

Thank you to Peter Castle and his staff for a wonderful visit.

Report by Chris. Brinson - Photography Margaret Rookes & Chris. Brinson