Hampshire Cultural Trust

Gale and Polden timeline

1866 James Gale opens his first shop at 1 High Street, Old Brompton in Chatham

1873 Gale prints his first book using hand-operated presses

1875 William T Nash becomes Gale's first apprentice aged just 14

1877 Gale employs a second apprentice called Ernest Polden who later becomes his partner

1885 Printing operations are moved out of Gales' house to a new factory, the Brompton Works, in Chatham

1888 Gale and Polden open their first shop in Aldershot at No. 9 Wellington Street

1892 A decisive year marking Gale and Polden's incorporation as a limited company

1893 Gale and Polden sell the Brompton Works in Chatham moving to the new Wellington Works in Aldershot

1894 The firm publish the first edition of the Aldershot News on 23 June

1894  Selling more than 12,000 copies

1904 Small bookstalls within the Royal Naval Barracks are opened at Chatham and a Portsmouth branch, known as the Nelson Works is established to capture the naval trade

1916 the firm win Royal favour and a warrant for producing Queen's Mary's Christmas card

1918 a fire at the firm's Wellington Works destroys one of the four wings temporarily halting production After the fire, the firm was understandably cautious about further accidents maintaining a volunteer fire crew at the Works.

1926 Emergency editions of the local newspapers are produced despite a crippling national strike

1938 Gale and Polden produce more than 180,000 copies of their souvenir programme, marking the peak of the firm's close involvement with the Aldershot Military Tattoo

1946 The firm acquire a new rotary press, cutting production time

1947 With Britain in the midst of the fuel crisis, the firm struggle to keep production going and many staff are forced to come to work in their coats with heating and lighting rationed in the factory

1950 The works canteen opens despite continuing rationing

1953 In common with the rest of the country, the firm celebrates the coronation of Queen Elizabeth

1956 Gale and Polden acquire a number of smaller printing firms including: Know Publications, producers of the Woking Opinion newspaper; Paines of Worthing and John Drew Ltd, an Aldershot-based rival

1959 A national strike by the printing unions means that Gale and Polden employees walk out for only the second time in the firm's history with apprentices and backroom staff left to keep the newspapers in print

1963 Gale and Polden is taken over by the Purnell Group

1964 Purnells merge with another printing company, Hazel Sun, to form the new British Printing Corporation (BPC), the largest printing company in Europe

1971 The Aldershot News is acquired by the Surrey Advertiser Group, which later became part of the Guardian Group of newspapers

1981 Robert Maxwell, the media mogul, gains control of BPC and Gale and Polden with it naming his new empire Maxwell Communications. In November of the same year Gale and Polden finally close after months of uncertainty

1987 The Wellington Works site is finally demolished

1991 Robert Maxwell died and, a year later, his company collapsed leaving thousands of people, ex-Gale and Polden employees included, without a pension.


Cover of news 1894
An early front-page of the Aldershot News, printed and published by Gale and Polden in 1894. This is a miniature version of the newspaper: perhaps printed by the firm's apprentices to demonstrate their skills.