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Help Save Our 200-Year-Old Albion Printing Press

A project by: Emily Derbyshire


WE RAISED £3,040

from 68 donors

Help us save a rare printing press so more students can learn the craft of letterpress printing


Thank you very much to all our supporters to date. Thanks to you we have now hit our fundraising target and we'll be able to restore our Albion! As such, we have increased our fundraising target. Any additional support we receive now will be put towards improvements to the print studio to accommodate larger groups of students, such as a new work bench, more type and rollers for inking, as well as essential consumables like ink and paper. Having more type in particular will help us improve our ability to print in foreign languages.

Please help us to save our 200-year-old Albion printing press, and give new generations of students the chance to discover the historic and creative art of printing.

Who are we?

Bristol Common Press is a letterpress printing studio based right in the heart of the Faculty of Arts. It is run by a team of academics who are passionate about sharing the historic art of printing with our students. Bristol Common Press is a creative, playful, collaborative space, where the emphasis is on learning by doing. By working with metal and wood type, by getting their hands inky, and by learning to use our printing presses, our students gain an extraordinary first-hand understanding of the technologies that shaped and transformed the modern world.  

Since Bristol Common Press was established in 2021, we have run workshops and classes for undergraduates and postgraduates studying a wide range of subjects, including English, Modern Languages, Liberal Arts, History of Art, and Creative Writing. We’ve even hosted physicists and engineers. And we want to do more! We’d love to welcome even more students into the printing studio, so they too can gain hands-on practical experience of letterpress printing. There is a real desire among our students to be able to spend more time in the printing studio: as Parita, studying for an MA in English Literature, says, ‘The printing press should be introduced to each and every student in each and every year. It roots you and binds you to the literature. Printing each and every word and letter makes you more connected.’  


The printing studio has three printing presses, but only two of them are currently operational. The third, a two-hundred-year-old iron Albion handpress, is in a very sorry state: it has not been used for several decades, is missing some key components including its handle and is in several pieces.

This centuries-old press is an extraordinary piece of early printing history. The Albion handpress was first invented by R. W. Cope in the 1820s, and by c. 1828 his colleague John Hopkinson had improved upon the original design. Our press, built in 1829, is one of the earliest surviving examples of Hopkinson’s improved design. We’re not sure who used our press when it was first made, nor what might have been printed on it in the years since, but its current state of disrepair suggests it has seen a lot of work. For at least the last three decades the press has been dismantled for storage, some of the parts have been broken and lost along the way, and it has been waiting for someone to bring it back to life.

We need your help to repair and restore this press. This will increase the capacity of the print shop by 50%, meaning we can give even more students the chance to learn the fascinating craft of letterpress printing. The refurbished press will enable our students to print multi-page pamphlets and books, following the same processes that would have been used two hundred years ago. By fixing this press we will also be preserving it for future generations: if we can save it now, it could last for another two hundred years, or more.  

Where will the money go?

We need to raise at least £2,300 so that we can commission an experienced press restorer to repair this unique printing press to work again.

This includes the restoration fee, associated expenses, and the costs of delivering rewards.

The university will provide up to £1,000 of matched funding to help us reach our target.

If we reach our full target of £2,500, the extra money will be used towards much needed printing equipment (such as additional rollers for inking), and if we exceed our target we will put this money towards improving our printing studio (for example by installing a new work bench).

We will provide updates on our progress every few days while running our campaign.


We offer a range of exciting rewards to thank our donors, from a set of hand-printed postcards to the opportunity to use the new Albion or even have your generosity commemorated forever on an engraved plaque on the press!

Find us here





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Please share this project with anyone you think would support us - on Twitter, Facebook, by email, telephone, or in a chat over the fence. The more people who know about it, the more likely we will be able to repair this historic press for the benefit of our students.