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The Goss Printing Press Company, a long history in Preston

Posted on - 28th May, 2023 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - History, Nostalgia, Preston News, University campus
The Soho Foundry that later housed the Foster Printing Press company, Pic: Preston Digital Archive
The Soho Foundry that later housed the Foster Printing Press company, Pic: Preston Digital Archive

The Goss Printing Press Company was once a large employer in Preston. Up to a thousand people worked there, at the company’s peak. Unfortunately it closed down in 2006, and the main site was redeveloped as flats. The loss was regrettable, as the company had a reputation for employing skilled workers. 

Read more: Demolition of former Goss printing press site begins

The printing press company was originally based in the Soho Foundry, near Greenbank sidings. Later a new building was constructed off Victoria Street. Before Goss took over in 1935, the company was known as Joseph Foster and Sons.

Early history

1890 map of Preston, the printing press works was in the Soho Foundry building
1890 map of Preston, the printing press works was in the Soho Foundry building

Joseph Foster and Sons

The Joseph Foster and Sons factory, housed in the Soho Foundry, began making printing presses in 1887. The Times of London became a famous user of Foster Presses. The Soho Foundry was built by Joseph Clayton in 1835 and originally made steam boilers. Another interesting Preston connection is the origin of the presses they made. The Web Printing Press was invented by Walter Bond, foreman of the Preston Guardian. The Press became known as the Prestonian, a play on words.

Goss takes over

Fred and Sam Goss had set up business in 1885, in the United States. In 1935 they took over the Foster Printing Press factory in Preston. Expansion followed.

In the mid 1950s, new machine shops were built on Victoria Street. The works was close to Greenbank goods sidings. 

The 1950s

The Goss printing works new building in 1958 Pic: Preston Digital Archive
The Goss printing works new building in 1958 Pic: Preston Digital Archive

In the 1950s new machine shops were built on Victoria Street, close to the junction with Fylde Road. This was a large and modernist building.

The new Goss machine shops in 1958 Pic: Preston Digital Archive
The new Goss machine shops in 1958 Pic: Preston Digital Archive

The new machine shops represented a considerable investment, and jobs at the factory were highly regarded. In fact the jobs were thought to be on a par with the toolmakers at BAC.

The drawing office at the Goss factory Pic: Preston Digital Archive
The drawing office at the Goss factory Pic: Preston Digital Archive

The Goss sales drawing office is seen above. The year was 1957, and this was before there was a computer on every desk. Although computers were starting to make inroads into business at this time, they still used valves, and were the size of a large wardrobe. The American origin of the Goss company is evident on the wall sign in the background. Notably, Goss International are still in business today.

The Harris has a model of one of the Goss presses. These were large and complex machines, as they still are today.

A model of the Goss headliner press Pic: The Harris
A model of the Goss headliner press Pic: The Harris

Follow Geoffrey on Twitter for more Preston history.

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