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J Arthur Dixon

A History of the Greetings and Postcard Company of the Isle of Wight

1926 – 2000

John Arthur Dixon was born at Cross Hills, Nr. Keighley, Yorkshire on the 18th June 1897. He was the elder son of Charles C. Dixon. At an early age of twelve he was apprenticed as a printer to his father’s firm, Dixon & Stell of Cross Hills, and full time at a weekly wage of five shillings (25 pence), of which he received five pence (2 pence) week as pocket money. Monday to Friday he worked from 7.30 am to 6 pm., and on Saturday from 7.30 am to 1 pm. During World War 1 The Boss served for four years in the Royal Navy, and on his return to civvy street in 1919 was offered 37/- (£1.85) per week. Having found his sea-legs he did manage to get a bit more than that! But he was bawled at; bully-ragged and told so often that he was no good that he almost began to believe it.

In 1926 he left his native Yorkshire and bought a little "two-by-four" jobbing business at Shanklin, Isle of Wight. His "Staff" was one old man ("Old" Jeff, and still with us) and two apprentices. Up to that time of the Boss’s arrival Jeff had never received full rate, and in any case had to wait for a portion of his wages until the end of the ‘season’. But from then on things were different.

Early jobs included producing letterheads and brochures for hotels and boarding houses, using a small gravure machine. The firm also printed resort guides and the Shanklin Gazette. Within a few years of having started his business his name was already known in Printing Trade circles. From 1930 he served on the Executive of the Home Counties Alliance and in 1935 became a Member of the Council of the British Federation of Master Printers. Printing was his trade but he was a man of the company of merchant adventurers. His business had become so successful that in 1934 it was incorporated as a limited company with an authorised capital of £5000.

Shanklin Works

As business grew so did the need for other premises, so in 1936 he first obtained premises to the rear of the Old Fire Station in Victoria Avenue, then the disused Zion Chapel and Church Hall. During 1936 John Arthur married Barbara Cooper and they resided at Gateway, Luccombe Cliff, Shanklin for a number of years.

1937 proved to be a turning point in the history of the firm, with the loss of the guidebook contract he became his own salesman and landed a £2,500 contract for printing a school brochure. He suggested that the brochure would be more artistic and more effective if it were illustrated with gravure plates. It was his intention to sub-contract for the illustrations, and so cut his own profit in order to turn out a better job.

Then he heard that Linotype and Machinery Ltd had produced the prototype of a new small gravure press: the No. 7 L & M Intaglio. Mr. Dixon went to London and saw a demonstration of the model. He decided that the machine was ideal for his small works, and with it he could go into the gravure business for himself. So he ordered it on the spot. The Linotype Company’s man began to talk about the delivery dates. However Mr. Dixon managed to get the prototype machine and on it he ran the plates for the school brochure, collected his money and paid off the balance due to L & M.

Mr. Dixon, a skilful photographer took his old "Plate" camera and tripod with him to the Needles and whilst in a small rowing boat with his wife took a picture of the Needles but with the full sun shining directly into his lens, to lessen the effects of the glare his wife held his trilby over the camera. On developing the plate there was a shimmering moonlight effect and taking a monochrome gravure print of the photo of the Needles now entitled "Moonlight over the Needles". A new business in the making was born. The original intention being to produce two hundred copies to be made up as Christmas cards to give to his customers, but one of his traveller’s having seen a copy went out and took large orders and in the process sold four thousand, for this Christmas Card was the forerunner of the millions of J. Arthur Dixon Greeting cards that were distributed throughout the world.

It was not long after this that by producing 12 good photos or paintings, making them up into sample books and for travellers to go and sell directly to shops over a wide area below a line of Bristol to London the Christmas Card trade took off in earnest.

At the British Industries Fair in 1938, Michael Standing interviewed one of the firm’s representatives during an "In Town To-night" broadcast. Though the firm’s name was not mentioned only a "greeting card manufacturer in the Isle of Wight" was sufficient clue, and one of the immediate effects was a contact with a buyer in Sydney. Australia, which resulted in a considerable volume of business up to the outbreak of war.

1939 saw the outbreak of war and for he and many of his workers were called up for service in many various forms. Mr. Dixon became a member of the 20th Hants Btn., and was attached to the Home Guard but was discharged in 1943 through ill health and given the honorary rank of Captain. However during the time he was serving in the forces his wife, Barbara Dixon Cooper with the assistance of the firm’s secretary Miss Elma Jones carried on travelling the length and breadth of the country taking orders for Greeting cards. Upon returning to rebuild his business he decided to produce cards in three-colour photogravure. During those early war years some Postcards were produced, namely of Nursery Rhymes to brighten up children away from home or parents away on active service.

Picture of postcard Mary had a little lamb
No.5 Mary ad a Little Lamb

In 1945 John Arthur married Barbara Cooper.

In 1946 as a result of a meeting between J. Arthur Dixon and Alex. H. Hamilton at an exhibition at the Royal Photographic Society in London, he was asked if he would like to join the firm as a staff photographer. In 1956 Alex Hamilton set up the companies operation in Inverness.

From around 1947 a limited contract was in operation to print in sepia/monochrome gravure postcards to be distributed by W. J. Nigh & Sons Ltd., of Ventnor, Isle of Wight, these later being printed by Jarrods. Following on from this contract J. Arthur Dixon continued to produce and distribute under his own logo/imprint. The firm went on to produce using the new photogravure a quality reproduction the "Private Card book for Christmas" 1947 included an outstanding subject "Roses and Pewter" for which the name J. Arthur Dixon will always be remembered. The Dixon Studios made this beautiful reproduction in colour gravure from a natural colour photograph. With this achievement the "Boss" as he became to be called, took steps to ensure that such quality was maintained and improved upon as more technical resources and experience became available.

From the February 1949 edition of "Greeting" a listing of Marjorie Dawson Booklets:

B/7 Naughty Torty B/8 Perky Pixie’s Party B/9 Perky Pixie and the Goblin
B/10 The Daisy Fairy B/11 The Doll’s Party B/12 Sparkle and Splash
B/13 Silky and the Fairy B/14 The Sea Wizard B/15 Silky’s Wings
B/16 Fairy Blossom’s Picnic B/17 The Ivory Garden B/18 The Sunflower Elf

By 1950 more factory space was needed, so an increase of 25,000sq. ft was found. With Cliffy Denton, being the Works Manager.

New Premises and Production

On the 1st January 1951 production commenced at a new factory at Forest Road, Newport in premises held by a lease from the Ministry of Aviation. Size of the premises 87,000 sq. ft. There production commenced in Monochrome gravure to be shortly followed by three-colour photogravure with a varied selection of logo/imprints. However the specialised Engraving department continued at Sibden Works in Shanklin. Here ably assisted by Albert Barraclough, a photographic technician, they proceed by trial and error. At first they had difficulty even in sensitising the carbon tissues. They controlled the humidity by strewing bags of lime around. Plate after plate was ruined, but slowly progress was made. They built their own drying cabinets for the carbon tissues, and discovered that the two old converted cottages in which the engraving plant was established did by virtue of their construction enable them to maintain the ideal conditions of 60 percent humidity at 70 degrees F. (21 C).

In the February issue of “Greetings” a Display Competition was launched for all retailers of Dixon’s Greetings Cards. The prize on offer, First Prize £10; Second Prize £5; with five Third prizes of £1.
The rules were simple:

  • 1. Competition is for best display of J. Arthur Dixon Greetings Cards either window or counter. Photograph required.
  • 2. Name and Address of sender on back of photograph
  • 3. Permission to be given for reproduction rights for any winning Photograph in Greetings.
  • 4. All photo’s to be received by 21 April 1951.
  • 5. Judges to be Mr. R. Barlow, Editor "Stationery Trade Review"; Len Pagliero, Association Secretary, Stationers Association; D.K.Winslow, Editor, "British Stationer."

After due consideration the Judges judged the Winners of the First Competition as:

  • First Messrs. W.S.Cowell Ltd of Ipswich
  • Second Borough Stationers of Swindon. (Window dresser Mrs. Stone)
  • Third Roberts Circulating Library of Leicester
  • Messrs John Keys of Bradford
  • Messrs. J.R.Williamson of Leicester
  • Milton Library of Bristol (Window dresser Miss J.B.Thorne)
  • The Bridge Business Services Ltd. of Colchester

In the June 1952 edition of “Greeting” the following statement was made "Dixon’s honoured in Queen’s Birthday Honours List" Mr. & Mrs. J. Arthur Dixon are delighted to announce that Miss Elma Jones their co-director for many years has been honoured by Her Majesty The Queen by being appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (M.B.E.) for her services to industry.

Miss Jones has been with Dixon’s for twenty-four years and from office girl has progressed to her present position of Production Director in charge of the factory.

The Boss’s "right hand man" she is the one to whom everyone instinctively turns to in difficulty – "Ask Miss Jones." The honour, which has now been conferred on her by Her Majesty, comes as a well-earned triumph in a business life spent in the service of Dixon’s.

From 1953 with the installation of banks of three machines manufactured by Waite & Savill of Otley, Yorkshire.

Picture of Yorkshire factory
Yorkshire Factory

The set up was initially in single sheet-fed flat bed presses of three machines each with its own copper plate etched for the three primary colours of cyan, magenta and yellow. The machines were also capable of doing 2, 4 and 8 up repros. The reverse of the card printed in Letterpress giving the logo and where printed. The inks having been purchased from Germany and mixed in house to produce the right quality.

Picture of company directors
Company Directors

Taken during a board meeting at Newport, Isle of Wight in the 1950’s.

The founder, J. Arthur Dixon is second from the right, front row. Next to him (third on the right) is John Buxton. In the back row, Alex Hamilton standing at the left and third left is Ronald Hastain.

Scottish Project

In 1955 the "Boss" was stricken down with a serious illness from which, by great will power and determination, made a remarkable recovery and proceed to expand the business further by opening a new branch factory at Longman, Inverness.

Working in conjunction with Scottish Industrial Estates and subject to Board of Trade approval, provisionally secured 10,000 square feet of factory space. So on 14th May 1956 with the opening of the new factory all production of Dixon colour-photogravure for all the United Kingdom and the growing international trade in postcards commenced. The first manager being Alex. H. Hamilton.

It should be noted that the postcards produced carry either the Newport I.W. England or the Inverness. Scotland imprint. All cards during this time were printed directly to order from shops, etc., via the area representatives of the Company.

In 1951, the year that Newport’s factory was established; it produced more than 14,000,000 Christmas, Birthday, Greetings and view cards. By the end of 1955 production of view cards alone had risen to nearly 30,000,000.

J. Arthur Dixon began his gravure printing with a photograph he took himself. Today, although he commissions artists to paint for him or buys outstanding photographs from leading professionals, his own staff produces most of the subjects used. His own outside photographers range the country for view card and calendar subjects. The natural colour flower studies, which are one of the most popular lines are photographed in the company’s studio, by William Holden. The negatives, positives and plates are made at the engraving works in Shanklin, and then go to Newport or Inverness for printing. The letterpress greetings are set by Dixon’s linotypes and printed on platen machines.

Paper is sent by truck more than 500 miles from the mills in Scotland, across the ferry and to the works in Newport. This makes for expensive freight charges, but ensures that the paper is untouched until it is put in store for special air conditioning before use.

His marketing system is a development of the personal contacts with which he began. But now his monthly-illustrated catalogues and special order forms go out to nearly 10,000 stationers in the British Isles alone. Special post office deliveries bring the daily flow of order, and a shuttle service of mail vans takes away the products from the packaging department.

Unlike most greeting card firms Dixon’s does not plan a year’s range in advance. The company introduces, on an average, 12 new designs every month. In any one month it offers a range of 250 birthday greeting designs and 260 Christmas designs. The current range of view cards exceeds 600. The Inverness factory is capable of turning out 35,000 postcards a day in three-colour gravure.

Taken from the July 1957 edition of "Greetings"

A Feather in his Hat!

One of the major happenings at Dixon’s these last few weeks has been the appointment of Cliffy Denton, our Works Manager, as a director.

I well remember the day when I first saw Cliffy – when I went down Shanklin High Street, turned tail and ran, because he came up the street with a little feather in his hat, a bright shirt and an even brighter tie – a day or two before "D" day – having a terrible struggle to get across to the Island, but he got there! He was at that time erecting machines, and had come to erect our first Waite & Saville Gravure machine – but I went back and received him, I hope, nicely!

I was not surprised to find a broad Yorkshire accent, which he still retains, and before he left, I decided that he was the man I wanted, and I approached him without success.

He was full of vague promises of various kinds, and I could make nothing of him.

At that time we were not making our photogravure plates, and he said "You want to start plate making, you will never get anywhere until you do." So I did start "plate making," against the advice of everybody on the firm, and then after many struggles I wrote him, telling him we had finally got going and that we were making our own plates, and when was he coming.

I got rather a vague reply, but he gave me a promise that he would come, so I called in at Otley to see his firm, because we do not "steal" other firm’s employees without them knowing.

I went into the shop floor with Fred Whyte, who is now the Managering Director of Waite & Saville, and I said to Fred: "You know Cliffy is coming to us." He said, "He will never leave Waite & Saville’s" to which I replied, "He is leaving you and he is coming to us, and I want you to get it straight, for I do not want you to think I am doing a dirty trick, so I am telling you now," and he said, very definitely, "He will not come to you."

Well, to cut a long story short, Cliffy did come to us, and to my surprise, developed what I didn’t suspect was there; in addition to his superlative mechanical knowledge, for he actually made these machines in Otley, the most wonderful eye for colour of any man I have ever struck in the printing trade. Now he is not only in charge of the whole Gravure Department, but we feel the time has arrived for Cliify to become a Director.

We wish him every success and, personally, Cliffy is one of the nicest men that you could wish to meet in a day’s march.

Back to the Isle of Wight

Christmas "Greetings" 1957 – It is two years and three months since the Boss had his sudden and very trying illness. Today he is back at the office as usual, very much as usual, giving us a dickens of a time keeping up with him. And we are thankful, for although one of his special charges this Christmas was that we should convey thanks to everyone on the firm for him, there is after all no one like the Boss. The latest news about him is that he can look forward to very many years of health, happy life.

Only five years ago we sold none in picture postcards. This year we have sold postcards to the value of £125,000. Only a few years before that we started a Social Stationery and Visiting Card department. From a cock-eyed department with one machine this department now has seven automatics, two hand-feeds, four Linotypes and two Ludlow’s. One more part of the Boss’s policy of keeping his eye on the clock about two years ahead of the other chap.

The future-well, wait and see, but when we tell you that 1958 will see the launching of another idea that even the Boss is proud of, you will realize that we and YOU have something to look forward to.

March 1958 – In the December issue of "Greetings" we told you to "wait and see" and that you would see the launching of a new idea. That idea has now materialized for Dixon’s have now become printers of guidebooks.

To start with, we had to have plant, and we got three new gravure presses, one letterpress machine, a folding machine, a collator and stitcher, and a guillotine. The Boss spent several weeks in Scotland, planning and installing the necessary plant, and just last week, the final machine has gone in - collator and stitcher. We already had a laminating machine - the only machine of its kind in Scotland. Then we went into production, and now we are in a position to turn out a steady stream of guidebooks.

We started with North Wales, and will follow this by Loch Lomond and the Trossachs; The Isle of Skye; In and around Inverness; as quickly as we can, and then all leading places in the country.

We intended first of all, to have eight pages in colour and eight pages of monochrome, and indeed, have gone ahead with North Wales and Loch Lomond and the Trossachs on these lines, and a very beautiful job they have turned out to be. The Boss was still not satisfied-he wanted it all in colour, and went over to the engraving department to see if they could possibly engrave more than one subject at a time, a thing which they had never done before, but they were willing to modify their technique and have a "go", with the result that they are turning out beautiful plates with two subjects down, cutting the printing time in half on all colour work. This was obviously a step forward.

The J. Arthur Dixon’s Pictorial Guide Books. Each booklet will be superbly printed and specially designed to provide the many thousands of tourists with a complete guide and a memorable souvenir. Each booklet will comprise of 32 pp. and cover. Page size is 8 3/8” x 5 ¾”. The full-page pictures will be in colour photogravure with sixteen pages of information covering routes and places of interest. The is a full colour illustration on the front cover with a two-colour road map of the area on the back. The covers are laminated to provide a hard gloss finish. Each will retail at 5/- tax free.

John Arthur Dixon died 19 May 1958 at the Royal Isle of Wight County Hospital, Ryde

Picture of J Arthur Dixon
J Arthur Dixon

Funeral service was held on the 22nd May 1958 at The Old Church, Shanklin, Isle of Wight. His funeral was attended by his family, Barbara Dixon (widow), Ann & Catherine (daughters) and Son, David. Also present were Mrs. Stuart Smith, Mr. & Mrs. Harold Dixon, Mr. & Mrs. W. Singer, Mr. & Mrs. E. Rodd, Messrs. S & W Cooper. Directors, Staff and a large number of friends. He was buried on the island.

"Let nothing be done through strife or vain glory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves".

Taken from The Boss’s notebook

Following the death of The Boss, the business was left in the hands of his wife and the Directors to run the business.

From the July "Greetings" the following message was found in the center:

Message from our New Chairman.

A very great number of our customers and friends wrote to me following the death of my husband. In addition to their kind words of sympathy, many expressed the hope that the business of J. Arthur Dixon Ltd., would continue in the tradition of its founder.

The Board has now elected me as their Chairman. I assumed this office in the full knowledge that I have not only the support of my fellow directors and a loyal staff, but the goodwill of thousands of retailers who have been our customers for a long time.

My husband built up a family business in the accepted meaning of that term and it embraces not only those who work for the Firm, but those who work with the Firm, whether they be suppliers of our materials or stockists of our products.

It will be my earnest endeavour to maintain and develop those guiding principles of quality and service for which this Firm is known throughout the Trade.

I do assure you all that J. Arthur Dixon Ltd., will continue to produce the finest cards and reproductions and that our interests will always be identified with those who sell these products to the Public.

Barbara Dixon

Mr. St. J.D. Buxton, who has been appointed Deputy Chairman of the Board of J. Arthur Dixon Ltd. He has been a director of the Company since 1952.

1961 brought another change in the company that of the annual window display competition which had been in existence from 1951 to 1958. From this time on the competition was to guess the six best selling cards introduced that month. The prize was £10.

During 1961 with disgruntled directors following a downturn in profits negotiations were commenced with potential companies. Ron Hastain OBE, a senior director attended a meeting in London with one such party. Later the board of J. Samuel White & Co. Ltd., of Cowes, negotiated an agreement for the purchase of the whole of J. Arthur Dixon’s share capital for the sum of £406,500. Shareholders of J. Samuel White’s were notified of an extraordinary general meeting to be held on September 12 at which a special resolution was proposed to acquire the whole of the issued share capital of J. Arthur Dixon Ltd. In the "Greeting" of October 1961 the frontpiece had the following message.

J. Samuel White Group

A Letter from Sir James Milne, CBE "It is a great honour and privilege to me to write this personal note to you as the new Chairman of J. Arthur Dixon Ltd. Becoming a member of the J. Samuel White Group of Companies. Let me assure you it is my intention to maintain the high standard of quality and service which has always been the tradition of Dixon’s, and you will be as pleased as I am to know that the former Chairman, Mrs. Dixon, will be giving us the benefit of her experience for some time. May I say that I look forward to a very happy business association with you".

With the transition, a new logo of a Rose with J ARTHUR DIXON LTD in box was applied to all production.

Picture of Imprint – A DIXON PRODUCTION – Printed in Great Britain
Imprint – A DIXON PRODUCTION – Printed in Great Britain
Imprint - NATURAL COLOUR PROTOGRAVURE – Printed in Great Britain or Scotland

Finally in 1961 a message from Sir James Milne, C.B.E. wished everyone A Happy Christmas and Prosperous New Year. He spoke of the incorporation of the company into the J. Samuel White’s group and that everything had gone with amazing smoothness thanks to the whole-hearted co-operation of Mrs. Dixon.

He also announced they had been fortunate in securing the service of Mr. E. Turner, B.Sc., who is to join as Managing Director from the beginning of the following year.

1962 saw the Scottish factory increase its capacity with an extra 10,000 sq. ft. extension. Mr. Bernard Sheehan, factory manager in conjunction with the Industrial Estates Management Corp. of Scotland who represented the Board of Trade. Mr. Sheehan is reported as stating, "that the extension will be used to meet the steady increase in the export market and to create an engraving department, as all the engraving is done at the firm’s Isle of Wight factory".

1963 see the appointment of Mr. H.L. Wiggins as Assistant Sales Manager, previously sales representive for City of London and South Eastern England.

From January 1964 at the Royal Academy of Art, London an exhibition of ‘Goya and his Times’ was held. To coincide with this event a re-release of some of the photographic reproductions was made in the new international size.

Picture of postcard titled The 3rd of May, 1808 in Madrid
The 3rd of May, 1808 in Madrid

In August 1964 Lotus Production (Fine Arts) Ltd was acquired due to the ill health of its managing director (Mrs. C. Reis). Lotus Production Ltd having a wide variety of continental and oriental influences. A full range of these were exhibited at the International Trade Fair in Frankfurt in 1966.

Picture of Imprint – A DIXON-LOTUS PRODUCTION – Printed in Great Britain
Imprint – A DIXON-LOTUS PRODUCTION – Printed in Great Britain

Mr Ronald Hastain OBE, who became sales director in 1965, attended the Fair for Dixon’s said, "the highlight of the Dixon collection was the "My Fair Lady" series. In collaboration with their associates in the United States, Dixon’s have an arrangement with Columbia Broadcasting System Incorporated for the exclusive rights of the "My Fair Lady" trade mark in the production of greeting cards, invitation cards, notelets, stationery, table paperware and gift wraps. The first of the new designs inspired by the musical play adapted from Bernard Shaw’s "Pygmalion" have already been produced and are being enthusiastically received and further designs (including one by the famous Cecil Beaton) are in course of production".

Beginning in January 1967 Greeting Cards commenced printing in the new POP (Post Office Preferred) sizes.

From the 1st January 1968 the company made changes to its operations by splitting the Tourist Publication (View Postcards, Colour Slides, Guide Books, Key Rings and ancillary lines including the new Posta-packs) as a separate division.

The stationery side will include all the greetings cards, gift wrap, muralettes plus the fusing of the Dixon-Lotus ranges and the new contemporary humorous Vaughn Designs.

In 1974, more change took place with J. Samuel Whites’ being taken over by Elliott & Co. a USA subsidiary of the International Carrier Corporation of Syracuse, N.Y. USA.

On 31 October 1974, J. Arthur Dixon’s was acquired by the Dickinson Robinson Group Ltd., the largest Stationery and Packaging group with the resulting logo change of (DRG) being added to the base of the postcards.

Picture of J A Dixon logo
J A Dixon logo

Also during that time a change of the title logo was introduced J Arthur Dixon for the J. Arthur Dixon (Inverness), when the tourist side of the business was based in Scotland and continued up to April 1981 when the Inverness factory ceased production.

In the early 1980’s all members of the DRG changed to the parent logo with the brand name incorporated and printed in blue/black.

Picture of DRG logo
DRG Logo

As reported in the Isle of Wight County Press of June 28 1985 the company’s large factory at Forest Road, Newport had just taken delivery of a revolutionary piece of machinery worth £1/2 million. The remarkable Roland Rekord, with its remote control inking device and other sophisticated electronic refinements, will vastly speed up production and is likely to expand still further the bulging order books for greetings cards and tourist postcards in this country and around the world.

Occupying pride of place in the 75,000 sq. ft. factory converted from an aircraft hanger, the machine is about 45ft by 12ft, and in one operation can apply five colours and a coat of varnish. An existing machine was already printing up to four colours but many greeting cards need a firth and had to be put through again; scenic postcards had to be varnished separately.

Postcard production from the 1960’s onward was in the L6 range (150 x 105 mm), later a new L7 size (172 x 118 mm) was introduced on highest quality board, which is then laminated on the four-colour side. Due to the success of this range of product the company decided to extend the range by including Special Postcard Service. The Bespoke postcards would be Photo Litho in four colours on one side with a one colour narrative on reverse. The minimum order was of 3,000.

1989 brought in a hostile bid by Pembridge Investments for the DRG for £680 million and subsequently started disposing of various DRG components. In March 1992 the Isle of Wight County Press reported on its front page Greetings card firm taken over by Bowater. The Newport factory, which employed some 225 men and women at that time, was part of a £212 million purchase of the Dickinson Robinson Group Packaging from Pembridge Investments. Miss Linda Redfern, managing director of J. Arthur Dixon, said "We are very pleased because Bowater is such a successful company and it is talking about investment. It is good to belong to a company of this size". "Things were a bit uncertain with Pembridge – we have been up for sale for some time. The workforce is relieved".

Picture of Bowater logo
Bowater Logo

Times were a changing in the publishing world with companies being renamed, take-overs and sell-outs. On the 1 June 1995 Bowater plc was renamed as Rexam plc, and by February 1998 had sold J Arthur Dixon on to John Hinde (Cornwall) Ltd. Here is where all postcard production now lies.

Picture of J A Dixon logo
J A Dixon Logo

But this is not the end of the story, for company was split in 1998 with personalising notepaper and greetings cards remaining in Newport, having been bought for more than £1 million by Second Nature of Ladbroke Grove, London finally going into liquidation in January 2000 owing estimated debts of more than £1.5 million (£500,000 to charities).

West Island Printers of Freshwater, Isle of Wight obtained from the administrators the surplus machinery from the Newport factory including the five-colour press which turned out up to 40 million greeting cards each year as part payment against its losses.

Sadly the once great greetings and postcard company is no more, it finally closed its doors on Friday 31 March 2000.

The history of the company was collected from many sources over the years, and to these must go grateful thanks.

Roy Richardson.

© Copyright 1988 – 2013

Permission to use on Wootton Bridge Historical is given herewith.

Footnote: The collection of Postcards and other related material produced by the company will in due course be deposited with the Isle of Wight Museums and County Records for safe keeping, also these are to be made available to the general public for research.

© Copyright 2005-2013 Wootton Bridge Historical

This page was last edited on: 26th January, 2022 17:50:37

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