Page 4 - May 2017
P. 4

|  The Story of Soldans |                         |  Bob Richardson (9718)  |


       based upon notes written by Bill Soldan in 1978
             o you remember Soldans? This    popular machines were manufactured.
             major printing supply company   Many of their ‘Lightning’ proof presses
       Dtraded for well over 70 years, yet   remain in use today and still fetch keen
       has now disappeared, virtually without   prices second-hand.
       trace. They were an important part of     In 1978, ten years after the demise of
       Britain’s printing trade for nearly three-  his family fi rm, Bill Soldan, the 80-year-
       quarters of a century, but their closure   old son of the company founder, was in
       in 1968 left only a handful of catalogues   conversation with Vivian Ridler, printer
                                                   to the University of Oxford.
                                                   Bill chatted casually about his
                                                   working life, when Ridler made
                                                   a suggestion: “Why don’t you put
                                                   all of this in writing and send it
                                                   to the St Bride Printing Library?”
                                                   Bill Soldan’s recollections were
                                                   duly committed to paper and
                                                   the document passed to James
                                                   Mosley, then librarian at St
                                                   Bride. It has lain undisturbed in
                                                   one of the 2500+ red archival
                                                   boxes which line the shelves of
                                                   the book stack. Perhaps it is time
                                                   that Bill’s story found a wider
                                                   audience.
                                                     Soldan’s was very much a
                                                   family fi rm. They lived in north
                                                   London and Bill’s father, Otto,
                                                   went to work each day on a
                                                   steam train of the former Great
                                                   Northern Railway. In the years
                                                   leading up to the First World
                                                   War young Bill would sometimes
                                                   use the season ticket for his
                                                   journeys to school, and often
                                                   visited his father at the company
                                                   showrooms in Turnmill Street,
                                                   Farringdon. Otto Soldan, born in
       and circulars to record their history.   1862, was the youngest of eleven children
       Soldans sold exotic, imported types,   of a Lutheran country parson, ‘as poor as
       printing presses and fi nishing equipment,   a church mouse’. Poverty did not much
       but they were not just ‘badge engineers’   aff ect their upbringing, and if anything
       – the company had substantial factory   it sparked a desire to work hard and
       premises in London, where their most   improve their lot. Young Otto spent some
       100
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