Holywell was originally founded as a traditional print business in 1890 by Harry Burrows – great grandfather of current MD Ben – and Jack Doe. The business was located in the Chapel of St Mary in Catte Street and took its name from the nearby Holywell Rooms. In the early years, Holywell’s main customer was Oxford University, but the company also worked for Morris Motors, producing advertising material for some of its early models – Harry and William Morris (later Lord Nuffield) became personal friends
As the business expanded its services, publishing books for local authors and printing the University’s new magazine, Isis Holywell outgrew its original premises and in 1920 moved into the Maclaren Gymnasium in Alfred Street. More space allowed Holywell to significantly extend the range of printing services it offered.
In 1944, Harry Burrows’ son Walter, probably better known as the Daily Sketch newspaper’s “Obstinate Artist” cartoonist, took over, running the business until 1965, when his own son Peter became the third generation of Burrows to head the Holywell Press. Peter undertook a major modernisation programme investing in new technology, relocating the business to our purpose-built factory at Osney Mead in 1989.
Peter’s son Ben took over as MD in May 2000, while Peter stayed on in the company as Chairman.