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Pitt Building University Press

History of the Pitt Building

General Information of the Cambridge University Press and the Pitt Building can be found on Wikipedia.

Listed Building 1126282

There were buildings on the site that preceded the erection of the Pitt Building. These spread between Mill Lane and Silver Street. In the CWN 18.3.1982: Six Inns in Silver Street, the Wheatsheaf, the St Catherine’s Wheel, the Black Lion, the Queen Adelaide, the Cock, and the Three Crowns, were all demolished to make way for the University Press.

1762  the University press started to move to the south side of Silver Street. The Black (White) Lion Inn was purchased and 24 years later a 4 storey warehouse was built.

1804 the warehouse was converted into a printing house. Adjoining it, a foundry was set up to produce stereotypes for the printing of Bibles and prayer books.

1820 the university purchased from John Nutter, miller, a large property which stretched southwards from the existing printing house in Silver Street as far as Mill Lane. A three storey building was built. A house was built for the printer, John Smith, with a front door on Mill Lane.

1824 surplus money from the fund for a statue of William Pitt in Hanover Square, London, was voted for the building of a new press. This was built on the Trumpington Street frontage, requiring the demolition of the Cardinal’s Cap inn.

1831 work on Pitt Press building started

1833 work completed at cost of £10,711 8s 9d. However, for 100 years the University Press made little use of the building.

Pitt Press, 1833 (MoC734.72)

Pitt Press circa 1840

1836 The diarist Romilly moved from a cold damp room in the Divinity School to a ground floor room at the south-east end of the Pitt Press Building in Trumpington Street. The William Pitt the younger Memorial Committee, having surplus funds after paying for a statue of Pitt in Hanover Square London, had offered the University a large sum ‘for the erection of a handsome building connected with the University Press.’ The Press buildings were completed in 1833 and since 1834 had housed the 248 paintings and 33 drawings and prints bequeathed to the University by David Mesman. These were moved to the Fitzwilliam in 1848. (See Romilly diaryJuly 1842 editor’s note)

1846 6 Dec. Josiah Chater reports in his diary a fire here caused by boards placed on top of a chimney to prevent it smoking.


Richard Sibley, 60, resident superintendent of the University Press, b London

Eliza, 57, b Bristol

Helen Hughes, visitor, 14, b London

Rebecca Phillips, 26, servant,  b Oakington

Pitt Press 1851, from Rock and Co, Views of Cambridge

1881 University Pitt Press

E Burrell, 58, printer electrotypist, b Cambridge

Emma, 54, b Cambridge

Alfred, 32, printer compositor, b Cambridge

Edwin, 26, assistant librarian, b Cambridge

Mary Ann, 24, b Cambridge

Ernest, 18, printer picker, b Cambridge

Kate, 13, b Cambridge

William Watts, visitor, 70, accountant, b Dorset

Rebecca, 61, b Surrey

Rose Maud, 4, b Stoke Newington

Pitt Press circa 1917


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