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View Full Version : Archived Report - De La Rue Printworks, High Wycombe Oct '11



mookster
October 11th, 2011, 23:47
I know what you're thinking, 'oh god another report when will they end' but I can promise you this is my last report for a while! I'll let the industrial forum rest for a bit now I think as I have put quite a few up...but I need to clear this backlog.

A day or so after I got back from the roadtrip I was invited out with Landie Man and one site we managed to crack which is almost on my doorstep was this - I can't believe I'd never done it before, I'd known about it but always assumed due to the lack of reports for a couple of years it was sealed or demolished but me and Landie rocked up, and had a brilliant time! The place is massive, way bigger than it looks from the outside and a maze inside of factory floors, corridors, mishmashed additions built into bigger rooms and other 'improvements'.

A bit of history first (thanks Wiki)


Harrison and Sons Limited was a major worldwide engraver and printer of Postage stamps and Banknotes.

The company was established in 1750 by Thomas Harrison and it obtained its first Post Office contract in 1881. The company won the contract to print the single colour United Kingdom Edward VII stamps in 1911 after the Post Office decided not to renew its contract with De La Rue. Initially, using printing machines manufactured by Timsons of Kettering it went on to produce most of the British stamps over the 60 year period from the 1930s until the 1990s, including the first UK stamp using the photogravure method in 1934 and the first photogravure commemoratives in 1935 for the Silver Jubilee of King George V. The first UK Christmas issue in 1966, on the specially designed Jumelle press, was also printed at Harrison and Sons. They printed their last British commemorative issue, referred to as ‘Queen’s Beasts’ issue, in 1998. The stamps actually being printed one year before they were issued to the public.

The company (abbreviation H&S) also printed stamps, banknotes, passports and gift vouchers for over 100 other countries from 1881 until 1997 when it was acquired by De La Rue security printers.

Harrisons had made significant inroads into De La Rue's banknote business - hence the DLR take-over. Some Directors and senior executives from Harrisons; such as Roger J Edwards, Chris R Hume, Brian P Janes and David J Johnson, were kept on for a short period of time before being made redundant.

De La Rue took over the site in 1997, and took over the printing of banknotes and stamps at it's High Wycombe site before it closed in 2003. De La Rue are still an operational company printing banknotes and papers for many banks worldwide, as well as producing travellers cheques, passports, driving licenses and vouchers.

It's a weird mix of serious chav damage and lovely natural decay, some rooms are full of things and others are largely empty, and it reminded me of the Ford Foundry in that a large amount of it has been ripped out and left in the actual factory although it doesn't appear a lot has changed since the last reports around 2009. The highlights had to be the store room full of acetate slides and the 2 massive secure storage rooms which although empty were properly cavernous spaces.

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One of the two enormous secure rooms

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The best corridor I have seen for a long, long time

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The second enormous store room, this photo doesn't do justice just how massive the space is...

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We spent ages searching for the boiler house and finally found it nestled right next to security's hut.

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All in all, the biggest urbex surprise of the year for me.

Loads more photos here http://www.flickr.com/photos/mookie427/sets/72157627873017244/ :thumb