The origin of Netherne Printing Services
goes back to the 1930’s when the famous Netherne Hospital for the mentally
ill started to introduce occupational therapy work for the
patients. Initially woodwork, needlework, rug making and
basket weaving were made available but, shortly after,
a printing press was obtained and simple forms were produced
for internal use.
Eventually, the unit provided most
of the hospital’s
printing requirements and started to undertake outside contracts.
During the Second World War, the printing department helped
contribute to the war effort by repairing and rebinding books
for the Royal Air Force.
By 1956, the unit employed over 25
patients under the guidance of 6 technical staff. The
department by now met all the printing needs of Netherne
Hospital and other establishments of the South-West Metropolitan
Hospital Board, as well as working for commercial customers.
Apart from a large array of printing, guillotining, stitching
and folding machines, the department even possessed specialised
sign writing machinery.
From the early 1960’s, there
was a trend away from the large mental hospitals and Netherne
began a period of decline with the subsequent contraction
of the various occupational therapy units.
In 1993, Netherne Hospital was finally
closed down but the name lived on when the printing department
was relocated in a self-contained unit within an industrial
estate in Dorking under the name of Netherne Printing Services.
Under the auspices of Priority Enterprises (part of the
then Surrey Oaklands NHS Trust), Netherne Printing Services
evolved into a print and finishing Social Firm, operating
on a commercial basis and meeting almost all of its running
costs through sales to both the public and commercial sectors.
Netherne Printing Services now continues to create full
time employment for disabled people as well providing therapeutic
but meaningful production work for a number of volunteers.
In November 2006, we became an independent business, although
still keeping our status as a Social Firm.