Page 14 - August 2017
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|  The Greycaine Book Company |  |  Adrian Towler (10068)  |


             n a recent visit to Broadstairs I     Greycaine Industrial Estate in
             visited Charles Dickens’ Bleak   North Watford takes its name from
       OHouse, a curious privately-owned     the Greycaine Book Manufacturing
       museum-cum-guest house.               Company, which moved there in 1926.
         When I returned home I dug out our   Despite the fact that Greycaine was one
       copy of the book and noticed it was   of the pioneers in the mass production
       a Greycaine product, although it had   of good quality books sold at prices
       been published by Odhams. Yes, it’s one   accessible to all, little has been written
       of those brown leatherette sets with   about it.
                                                            Greycaine derived its
                                                          name from its Directors,
                                                          Frank Grey and (Gordon)
                                                          Ralph Hall Caine. Frank
                                                          Grey was born Francis
                                                          John Christian Gruneisen
                                                          in 1869 in Camberwell,
                                                          son of a book binder,
                                                          John Gruneisen. But
                                                          Frank abandoned his
                                                          apprenticeship as a
                                                          bookbinder, and at the
                                                          age of 19 spent seven
                                                          years in America. On
                                                          his return he worked
                                                          in his father’s business
                                                          for a while, then started
                                                          his own in Islington.
                                                          By about 1909 Frank
                                                          had been joined in the
                                                          business by Ralph Hall
                     Greycaine books
                                                          Caine, and the company
       Dickens’ face embossed on the front.   name was subsequently changed
       And we have another set in the house,   from Gruneisen to Greycaine. Perhaps
       of ‘great classics’ that belonged to my   Germanic names were not particularly
       grandparents. You might have some too;   popular then!
       there must be thousands still around.    Ralph Hall Caine was born in
         Greycaine were in Watford – and     Hampstead, the son of Thomas Henry
       since we’d been to the Frogmore       Hall Caine who was a successful and
       paper mill on a Branch visit, and John   well-known novelist of his time, selling
       Dickinson were down the valley, and   around 10 million copies of his 15
       the Sun Engraving Company was         novels. Unsurprisingly, he later became
       somewhere near, I thought I’d do some   a major investor in the Greycaine Book
       research on print and paper in the area.   Company. Son Ralph went into the
       Where to look ?– why, the internet of   paper and printing trade, and during the
       course.                               fi rst world war he was chief technical
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