Grant Best of Durham Road, Laindon

I started my apprenticeship as a hot metal compositor at Grant Best and worked with Roger Snook (compositor), Robert, Jerry Charker, Laurie (machine minders), Mr Feener (manager), Eric Grant (owner’s son who ran the firm) and a lady who worked on the finishing side. Mr Grant senior retired to Thetford and as Eric was more interested in selling cars in Grays, the firm was sold and became Smith and Laverno. I was there for a year or so before trying my hand at butchering but only lasted about four weeks. I then went back to the printing trade and retired at 67 working on magazine advertising in Docklands.

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  • Having worked as metal typesetter in various countries I settled in London and became a typographer to start with. Once I went to Naishes in South Benfleet for a letter head. I asked for blind embossing. “We don’t do that,” said Mr. Naish, but I insisted it was simple and I had done it myself. He went into the works and spoke to the foreman: “There is someone out front wants to tell me my business.” He explained. “Yes, we can do that,” said the foreman.

    By Robert Hallmann (18/06/2022)
  • Well I’m blowed, I worked for GB in 59/60 and then for SG 60/61. John Deardes was a compositor at GB, Martin Woods ran an old Heidelberg platen press, I used to have to get Mr Feaners lunch every day too. He used to smoke Players and darn near coughed his lungs up every time her lit one which was often. Through natural attrition I was soon operating the new Heidelberg platen press and their small Acme press and assisted MR F on the bigger flatbed press. At 15 I really had no idea what I was doing as we were given very little training then but somehow we muddled through.

    By Ken Page (23/10/2021)
  • I remember you getting married but I think you left soon after. I used to get Eric’s dinner from the cafe, the bottom of the box broke once and it ended up over the road. I think Colin ended up on the railway. I worked with John a few years later at Naish in Benfleet, both getting made redundant when the firm closed. Redundancy was a way of life in the printing trade and I am not surprised that people changed career. Most jobs ended with redundancy, around eight or nine times for me even until the day I retired, although I always managed to get another job in print straight away.

    By Paul Sargeant (25/07/2021)
  • Hi Paul, reading your story has certainly brought back memories for me !. I started at Grant-Best in late 1960 as an apprentice and I remember some of the names you have mentioned, Roger Snook eventually owned an off licence in Benfleet. Gerry Charker I met years later in Westcliff and he was no longer in print.. I had to collect Mr. Feaners dinner from the cafe every day when I first started and I was really worried that I might drop it and get the sack !! My time there ended when the company was sold to, as you mentioned, Peter Leverno and Peter Smith, they renamed it Genotype Ltd. and because they could not afford to pay me as a qualified printer I had to go. I seem to remember some other names which I have not seen mentioned in previous posts and that is John Deardes and Colin Brown, do they ring any bells at all ?
    I stayed in print for a number of years and eventually retired and moved to Suffolk with my wife with whom I have been married for 53 years

    By Robert Rothwell (24/07/2021)
  • Eric Grant was my dad, Len Robinson’s cousin and my godfather. My brother, Martin, worked for a while there to help out, and I, Christine, became a printmaker/artist as an adult, once I’d emigrated to W Australia in 1974.

    By Christine Elaine (nee Robinson) (14/05/2021)
  • Hi Paul,
    I remember Grant Best because I worked for another printing company called Smith Greenfield which was located across the road. The two printers used different printing systems, Grant best used letter press which entails lead type whereas Smith Greenfield were Lithographic printers using aluminium plates that were etched by a photographic process. I don’t know if there was any rivalry between the two firms because we probably differed in the type of work that we sought. A lot of our clients were in the city especially the Law Stationary Society who had us print letter-headings for law firms. One benefit of this work was that their definition of a ream of paper was 480 sheets whereas for everyone else it was 500 sheets, this was an advantage to us because you had twenty sheets to spare for spoilage. Smith Greenfield was owned by the Greenfield family, with Brothers Sid and John and Sid’s son Derick being the management. Derick’s wife was Lilian Greenfield who was a Councillor in Billericay. I was not there for long before moving on to start a career in electronics. Smith GreenFields works were located on part of the land now used by PGR Building Supplies and next door to Turners where they processed old clothes and scrap material.

    By Colin Humphrey (09/05/2021)

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