A farmer’s boy who became fascinated by printing after being given his first John Bull printing set dismayed his family when he left agriculture to chase his dreams.
Now that boy is pushing 90, and his granddaughters are busy printing all kinds of materials in the print business he established all those years ago.
John Creed first became excited by print in the 1940s when given a little printing set, where you could line up little metal letters in a row, press them against the ink pad and print official-looking materials.
Many of us remember that frustrating and absorbing toy – far fewer were inspired to establish a printing business because of it.
As a teenager he enjoyed printing lessons at Bridport Grammar School and was given a little Adana Press, on which he produced stationery and cards for family and friends in the evenings, after finishing the milking.
He married Audrey and decided to go into printing full time – raising eyebrows among his family.
However hard work and innovation quickly paid off and by 1957 business was brisk.
John installed new equipment in an outhouse on New House farm in Broadoak. The machines ran on petrol – there was no electricity in the area until the 1960s. As business started booming, John and Audrey moved to a former carpenter’s premises in Broadoak, just down the road. He loved to engineer solutions, and built a ‘jogger’ to jostle the paper into position.
Their daughters helped out from an early age, composing type, stapling draw tickets, tidying the works. Their husbands later joined the business.
John’s passion for print never abated and he set about investing in all the new technology – adopting computerised systems in 1973, then desktop publishing in the 90s. By 2013, Marylin and her husband Harry owned Creeds, and moved the business to Gore Cross Business Park on the edge of Bridport, retaining the older equipment beside the newer machines so they could tackle any print job, from a business card to a book to a banner.
Marylin said: “When I went to school the teachers were puzzled when I started writing at the right-hand side of the page and working backwards as we did when setting type on the composing stick.”
Now John’s granddaughters Rachel Claiden and twins, Cath Poole and Laura Carstairs, work at Creeds. Despite the business being sold in 2015, to Sherborne-born Tristan Phillips, it remains very much a family business.
These days they produce an astonishing array of products, from magazines and books to leaflets, posters, brochures and business cards.
There’s gold foil, raised logos and lettering and more on the luxury end – if you need to impress your contacts look no further. Creeds do a roaring trade in self-published books, too – so many writers having chosen arty Bridport as their home.
Prices are kept as keen as possible, and they are used by many local magazines for their high quality.
Manager Simon Craig said: “People often come to us having tried to save money by ordering print online and then being disappointed by the quality. We’re still a family firm at heart and we look after our customers, sitting down with them and discussing what they want – they can feel the different grades of paper and see what we’ve produced for others.”
While some things, such as calendars and cards have dwindled in popularity – “Grandad sometimes rather shamefacedly sends e-cards,” grins Cath – other types of printing have grown. And Creeds can handle all of it, from tickets and signs to wedding invitations and orders of service for funerals. They are event printing specialists.
They have also embraced sustainability, using eco-friendly papers and inks – then of course, saving many miles of planet-chomping diesel by producing and delivering locally.
“We are looking at ways to produce carbon-neutral print,” said Simon. “And we do most things in-house, cutting down on the mileage.”
At the Bridport Business Awards last month, Creeds were given the Excellence in Customer Service Award, having impressed judges with their attention to detail and customer care.
n Creeds welcome any job, big or small. For a quote and more info go to http://creedsuk.com or call 01308 423411 or email firstname.lastname@example.org