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Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome.

3rd September 2017

Our latest and greatest effort to date took place on Sunday 3rd September. A jolly group of B.P.S. Members were invited to attend the Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome ‘Wings & Words’ event and demonstrate our letterpress printing skills for the edification of the public. Altogether five presses were in action, printing a wonderful assortment of ephemera some relating to World War 1.

Our group consisted of Len Friend (our Chairman), guests Steve Linehan and Barry Felstead, both volunteers at the St. Bride Foundation and the Type Archive, and BPS member Mick Clayton and Gill his wife both of whom also volunteer at St. Brides. Ron and Margaret Rookes, Chris & Jenny Brinson, and finally our latest recruit Kevin Dodman.

During the course of the day we were delighted to greet our oldest member, Ken Wright all the way from Braintree. Also Jillian Atkins was with us together with some gems from her late husband Robert’s library. These were offered to members for a donation to the Salvation Army. Thank you for thinking of us Jillian and taking the trouble to be with us.
We had plenty of elbow room for our display as we were housed in a large open fronted marquee. Len Friend had excelled himself by printing a massive Zeppelin on a 12ft banner for one end of the tent, and an equally massive Gotha G.V. Bomber aircraft for the matching end. Len had also printed a mass of WW1 ephemera and beautiful full colour posters. Altogether a superb effort on his part.

Ron and Margaret were displaying our range of BPS publications together with some exquisite keepsakes and novelty souvenirs printed by Ron on his Adana 8x5.
The Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome is Europe’s largest surviving WW1 Aerodrome and we were up against it with competing events.

During the course of the day we had poetry readings, book signings, talks, and even an operetta performed for the first time in ninety years after being found in a desk drawer!
Kathy Peyton the author of “Flambards” which older readers may remember was a successful television series. The actual aerodrome was built on Flambard’s Farm, hence her title for the series. The museum details may be found on


The historical material printed by the Essex Branch was of a high order (see illustrations) each piece was personalised with the persons own name, and this was done rapidly thanks to our two Fleet St. professional “Comps” Each visitor could claim a War Department leave of absence certificate, and National Registration Act 1915 official identity card, ideal if you want to go time travelling!

Reg Card

Quite a busy day for us all but the actual flow through of visitors was not as high as it could have been. The organisers in their wisdom had opened the museum for free on the preceding weekend, but our weekend commanded an entry fee which put off a lot of the public. However we could give our visitors extra care and attention as we were not rushed or pressured. Interest in our society was considerable and I think we did the B.P.S. proud and raised the public profile of the Society of Friends still further

Report by Chris. Brinson - Photography Ron Rookes