Individually addressed Labour election leaflets pouring off the presses of the fully equipped digital printing firm Beacon Printing (Penarth) Ltd at Leyshon’s Buildings off Cornerswell Road

Party political leaflets ,circulars and flyers by the thousand are now pouring off the digital presses at Penarth’s only major printing company as  fresh batches of election literature are being produced ready to distribute around the town ahead of the May 4th local elections . 

For Penarth’s largest – in fact, only –  full-range printing company, Beacon Printers, the election has brought-in extra work from most of the political parties including the Independents, Greens, Plaid Cymru, Labour and Conservatives .

Co-director Dave Stafford – who back in 1972 was offered an apprenticeship by the firm’s founder – Spitfire pilot Fred Beacon –  oversees the digital printing of election material

Beacon’s specialist computer controlled digital printing equipment is so sophisticated it’s able to produce individually-addressed full colour leaflets for every registered voter in the town .

Penarth Spitfire pilot Fred Beacon who founded Beacon Printers

The printing firm’s roots go back to 1880 when it was based in Hickman Road and was later run by one of Penarth’s first female entrepreneurs Emily Matilda Harries of Railway Terrace.

The founder of the present firm – Fred Beacon had served his printing apprenticehip with Ms Harris  before the war,  but  joined the RAF in 1942 at the age of 18  and served for 3 years as a Spitfire pilot with the 607 (County of Durham) Squadron.

After war service  he returned to Penarth and bought-out the original printing business (which possessed just one manually operated printing press)  – from Ms Harris  and renamed it as Beacon Printers.

In its first year –  1946 – the  firm turned over just £390 but by the time he retired in 1988 Fred Beacon had made it a thriving business with a staff of more than 20 .

Co-director Peter Legg with the the last remaining pre-digital era, classic 1963 Heidelberg press – which still delivers perfect quality

The company is now run by partners Peter Legg and Dave Stafford (who was recruited as an apprentice  by Fred Beacon) – along with a team of busy and dedicated staff who can produce everything from a wedding invitations to full-colour illustrated books of the highest quality.

Despite the plethora of computer-controlled equipment now installed at the Cornerswell Road premises, the firm has held on to the last of its 4 traditional 1963-vintage German Heidelberg letterpress machines – not only because it’s part of the company’s heritage, but because it still delivers outstanding quality.

A litho plate of a political leaflet in the top-of-the-range Presstek waterless and chemical-free digital press.

The size of the financial investment made in new electronic equipment in the firm however is eyewatering.Some of the modern litho colour presses at the Beacon Printers –  like the Presstek 34DI – cost well over a quarter of a million pounds apiece.

They’re capable of taking-on just about any kind of printing commission –  including full colour glossy book publication – and are so green they don’t use any of the harsh chemicals which older machines need.

One of Beacon’s two-colour digital Heidelberg presses about to start a print run

Whilst retail shoppers are being urged to “shop in Penarth”,  Beacon directors would like to make sure that local customers also “print in Penarth“.

They were disappointed to find that they hadn’t even been invited  by the Labour Party to  quote for some of the election leaflets that the party had contracted to have printed in Barry – even though the literature was for distribution in the Cornerswell Ward of Penarth  – where Beacon Printers is actually based .

There’s also a bit of a black mark for Penarth resident and Labour South Wales Police Commissioner Alun Michael,  whose force commissioned 47,000 leaflets to be printed in Sheffield rather than in Penarth. Beacon would have liked to have tendered for that business too.

The Labour Party did however  commission Beacon to print its latest batch of  Penarth Town Council election literature in Penarth – which were coming off its presses today. 

Beacon Printers has a strong reputation for the quality of its commercial work – and holds a long-running contract with the Principality Building Society to fulfil all its printing requirements in Wales.

The firm also offers customers a much-appreciated facility for storing printed material on site – so that it can be produced economically in a large print run and held for distribution as and when required.

Beacon Printers occupies two floors of a complex off Cornerswell Road, Penarth

Beacon Printers is now one of the most capital-intensive and high-tech enterprises in Penarth, indeed anywhere in the Vale –   something about which its founder, Fred Beacon, would have been justifiably proud.

Fred Beacon died in 2012 at the age of 88. He was a lifetime member of both the Penarth RAFA Club and the Penarth Branch of the Royal British Legion .Like his RAF comrade-in-arms and fellow Penarthian, Wing Cdr Guy Gibson –  he  was a member of  Glamorganshire Golf Club .

In Beacon Printers, the legacy of Fred Beacon’s hard work, drive and attention to detail  lives on.


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  1. Mgg says:

    You can rely on them to produce good flyers ! Good people .support them when you can .

  2. Anne Greagsby says:

    Very interesting. They did a good job for us but not cheap. I noticed labour were delivering a labour newspaper recently printed in Birmingham!

  3. s'vodden says:


  4. James says:

    Fantastic to have this top-quality business in Penarth.
    I’ve seen catalogues they’ve produced and they’re superb.

  5. Dan Potts says:

    The Green Party​ dumping paper though people’s letter boxes which will go straight in the bin ! That’s not very environmentally​ responsible .

  6. sjleworthy says:

    Remember going there for my first ever job interview for YTS 28 years ago. They were on Arcot Street back then.

    • Joe blow says:

      I’m sure they were always where they are.

      I remember listening to the presses working away when I was in Victoria Primary School in the 70s

      • Martha says:

        This is one of the reasons I come on here (aside from all the scrapping).
        That conjures up a lovely image of listening to the presses in primary school.
        I wish there was somewhere people could post more about growing up in Penarth and all the things they remember, the little details like this that might otherwise be forgotten.

      • sjleworthy says:

        Perhaps they had a head or sub office there. I definately went on Arcot street to them for an interview

  7. Eleanor Brown says:

    Hi Mum,

    why should this be of interest to me??

    But thanks anyway 😉


    On Tue, Apr 11, 2017 at 2:17 PM, Penarth Daily News wrote:

    > NewsNet posted: ” Party political leaflets ,circulars and flyers by the > thousand are now pouring off the digital presses at Penarth’s only major > printing company as fresh batches of election literature are being > produced ready to distribute around the town ahead of the ” >

  8. Joe blow says:

    When we played murder ball or other games up against the wall, we could hear deep machinery noises on the other side of the wall. What created them was only limited by your imagination.

Comments are closed.